On February 14, 1967 PMAC (now IMC) Directors instructed their Officers of the Education Committee of the Marketing Section to set up a committee to answer these questions:

  • “Do we or do we not want to have the medical representatives meet a standard?”
  • “Could they elevate their status by some method of certification?”
  • “Is it possible to measure against such a standard?”

The answer to all three questions was yes and a decision was taken to create an independent accreditation association and programme.

The blueprints of the plan creating our organization and Accreditation course came together during a meeting held in February 1969 with members of the following groups acting as advisors:

Association of Canadian Medical Colleges

Canadian Pharmacists Association

Association of Faculties of Pharmacy of Canada

College of Family Physicians of Canada

Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association of Canada (PMAC)

Canadian Medical Association

Food & Drug Directorate

On May 30, 1969, at the Dorval Hilton, the 1st Board of Directors’ meeting was attended by representatives of the following organizations:

PMAC Committee on Accreditation
(Schering & Ayerst)

(Octo & Pentagone)

PMAC Board of Directors

PMAC Marketing Committee
PMAC Medical Committee

During the 1950’s and 60’s, pharmaceutical sales representatives, commonly called “Travelers” by doctors at the time, were often merely merchandisers selling to pharmacists “Chemists and Dispensing Physicians. A snapshot of this situation is illustrated by the famous Canadian brand – Frosst 222®; Charles E. Frosst’s ASA, codeine and caffeine tablet.  You may also know the 282® and 292®. These products were sold by a sales force consisting of men driving their territory loops, stocking millions of these famous analgesics out of their “car stock”. What you may not know is that these famous Frosst Brands were actually their catalogue numbers. The Frosst Reps (Frossties) of the time, like Reps from other organizations, didn’t need to discuss any science or educate physicians on the use of their products. But with antibiotics, antihypertensives and other medications coming to market, Pharma companies recognized that, to be more valuable to customers, their “Travelers” needed to evolve into science-based professionals. But … And it was a big but, there were neither mechanisms to determine educational standards for the industry nor any organization in place to implement training and certification to those standards.

In 1969, the Council for the Accreditation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Representatives of Canada (APMR) was created by the innovative Pharma industry in Canada under the auspices of the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association of Canada (PMAC). These organizations are now known as the Council for Continuing Pharmaceutical Education (CCPE) and Innovative Medicines Canada (IMC) respectively. CCPE was created as a tactic by IMC to assess the need for, design, develop and implement educational programs supporting the education and accreditation of Professional Sales Representatives to standards higher than those expected by stakeholders. The innovative Pharma Industry’s goal was to increase the value of the Rep-Customer interaction by providing Professional Sales Representatives with high quality scientific information and education which could be leveraged into interactions with healthcare professionals and subsequently into improved health outcomes for their patients. By doing so, innovative Pharma would gain the reputation of being an important contributor to the health of Canadians.

CCPE’s first training and accreditation program was developed through an educational committee of academics, Pharma industry employees and IMC committees. It was implemented in 1970 as a live, in-person, 3-day course in Montreal facilitated by members of the faculties of Pharmacy and Pharmacology from the University of Montreal and University of Sherbrooke.

CCPE continues its mission today.  The Accreditation course has evolved to a point where it is offered with a modern instructional design as a 200 to 300 hr – 3000-page, highly modularized, self-driven learning program with multiple on-line examinations. This paper-based course with accompanying PDF files and access to the Canadian Pharmacists Association’s (CPhA) RxTx online tool provides the flexibility for students to study according to their own timelines and needs: by leveraging their educational background into the materials for efficiency. A physician who reviewed the course structure and material once said, partly in jest, but in full recognition of the content:

“This Accreditation course is like my first year of medical school without the cadaver. And it even touches on areas that I have never studied.”

The demands and expectations of stakeholders within the modern healthcare environment require broader, deeper and sometimes highly specialized knowledge and skills which are not found in usual academic systems. Therefore, CCPE, under the direction of a volunteer Board of Directors, is utilizing its reach and resources to execute on an enhanced engagement strategy that we refer to as:

RICEReputation; Insights; Community & Education

Amongst other things, CCPE:

  • Developed a Code of Conduct for Pharmaceutical Industry Professionals to standardize professional behaviour
  • Moved to provide greater insights to the industry (BenchSmart™ Series)
  • Keeps individuals with specific interests abreast of current news and science in those areas using Sosido Weekly Digests
  • Supports multiple communities through separate virtual Communities of Practice dealing in specialized topics
  • Extends its reach & influence through a sustained, social media engagement strategy, continuously providing posts highlighting the #smartindustry it serves
  • Expanded its course catalogue (now over 40 courses most in both English and French) with unique & Canadian offerings which meet the challenging needs of a wide variety of Pharma job functions in helping healthcare professionals treat their patients.
  • Developed courses, such as Continuing Professional Development, for Healthcare Professionals in support of their patients.

At CCPE we are both proud of our history and are working to having a continued impact on Canadian patients, their families and their loved ones.

There is no doubt that on November 7, 1969, Dr. A.F.W. Peart, Secretary General of the Canadian Medical Association, foreshadowed a great many successful improvements to patient outcomes through highly trained Pharma employees when he stated:

“I wish to congratulate PMAC for establishing this Accreditation Board, as I think it will do much for improving the knowledge and relationship between pharmaceutical representatives and the medical profession in Canada …”

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