US: American Board of Internal Medicine cleared of antitrust charges

A class-action lawsuit against the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) over its maintenance of certification (MOC) program has been dismissed in federal court.

The lawsuit claimed that the ABIM’s authority to board-certify internists initially and its maintenance of certification program are separate “products” and that ABIM illegally ties the two together, forcing internists to purchase MOC from ABIM or risk losing their board-certified status.

It also charged the ABIM with violating RICO laws and with “unjust enrichment.” The plaintiffs were four internists, all of who encountered some problems while attempting to maintain their certification, and three or whom are currently listed as “not certified” on ABIM’s website. The suit was filed in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

In his September 26 ruling, Judge Robert S. Kelly found that “ABIM’s initial certification and MOC products are part of a single product,” and therefore “there can be no unlawful tying arrangements.” He also called the plaintiffs’ framing of the ABIM certification “flawed.”

“In essence, plaintiffs are arguing that, in order to purchase ABIM’s initial certification, internists are forced to purchase MOC products as well,” Kelly wrote. That was not the case, he noted, since the physicians who brought the lawsuit “were all able to purchase ABIM’s initial certification without also buying MOC programs.”

Full Content: Medical Economics

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