INCON Expert Article


The European Pharma Code and its impact on Global Medical Meetings

By Simon Dufaur


The European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries (EFPIA) has agreed a new Disclosure Code which is now impacting the way the pharmaceutical industry interacts with healthcare organisations (HCOs) and individual healthcare professionals (HCPs).

From 2016, the public in Europe will be able to see exactly how much a pharmaceutical company has paid an individual HCP and HCO. With these disclosures set to include all registration, accommodation and travel expenses for medical meetings, meetings planners are concerned about how the new code will affect their events, particularly in terms of HCP attendance.

Here are our top five 'Disclosure Code need-to-knows' for medical meeting planners:

1.  What specific references are made to meetings and events in the the code?

The code states that pharmaceutical companies should disclose all contributions "to costs related to Events, through HCOs or third parties, including sponsorship to HCPs to attend Events." This includes: registration fees; sponsorship agreements with HCOs or with third parties (including industry sponsorship of association meetings); and travel and accommodation expenses.

2.  How will the code impact the attendance of European HCPs at medical events?

A concern for many meeting planners is that EU physicians will start refusing sponsorship for conferences for fear of negative public perception. As the majority of European doctors attending meetings have traditionally been financed by third-party sponsors, the worry is that it will be harder to attract the critical mass necessary to make meetings worthwhile and successful enough to attract the right speakers.

3.  How can planners ensure that their meetings are eligible for HCP sponsorship?

Make sure you’re selling the science, and nothing more. In order for the meeting to be deemed compliant, the emphasis must purely be on scientific objectives, the value of the meeting’s educational content, and the importance of knowledge-sharing forums in advancing patient care. There should be no emphasis at all on the venue, destination, or social activities.

4.  How should healthcare associations adapt?

Associations hosting medical congresses which attract a high number of attendees from Europe need to get to grips with the new code because of the obvious implications it could have on their event. While certain countries within Europe already have laws regarding payment disclosures, this is the first time that such a code is being brought into force across the entire region. This means that associations must keep up to speed with the various different regulations that could affect their meetings - whether they are national, regional, or international.

5.  Will the code create any new business opportunities?

While the code could potentially cause a drop in delegate numbers for larger, international congresses, it could also open up new business opportunities for regional meetings and online activities that allow HCPs to participate and gain CME credits without travelling. Some association meeting organisers and event planners may also be hired to help pharmaceutical teams track and record costs, adding an additional service to their portfolios. For meeting planners it’s an opportunity to show our clients that we can design innovative face-to-face, hybrid or digital programmes that not only provide clear benefits to the attendee, but will also demonstrate beyond doubt the added-value of the activity when it comes to reporting.

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Simon Dufaur

Global Director, Cardiology & Haematology
MCI Group

A seasoned healthcare executive, Simon directs MCI’s healthcare team in assisting medical associations and pharmaceutical companies manage increasingly complex regulatory changes and build high-level stakeholder alliances through strategic consulting and service development.

With close to 20 years’ experience in navigating the ever-changing and challenging regulatory environment of the healthcare sector and helping clients to maximise the impact of their face-to-face engagements, today Simon is a highly-skilled expert on healthcare trends and issues affecting the industry. He regularly shares his expertise as a speaker at international conferences and as a guest writer to leading trade magazines.


This article is No.24 in a series of expert articles brought to you by INCON. To consult other articles please visit our Expert Article archive.

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