ABPI compliant member organizations are accredited with supplying over ninety percent of all medicines available to the National Health Service (NHS).
Pharmaceutical companies who convene meetings designed to provide current scientific research, clinical developments, and medical breakthroughs to various health care professionals must operate within strictly mandated guidelines in order to remain ABPI compliant.
Although conferences geared towards providing an essential venue of communication between pharmaceutical companies and health care professionals are considered a necessary component of clinical need, it is also vital that these sponsored events operate so there is no evidence of impropriety.
ABPI compliance dictates specific requirements concerning the hospitality offered during these meetings in order to reduce the risk of appearing to unduly influence health care professionals into prescribing any one particular pharmaceutical product over another.
Clause 19 of the ABPI 2006 code of practice specifically addresses the rules under which meetings between pharmaceutical companies and health care professionals are held. To remain ABPI compliant, conveners must arrange conventions with educational content as its primary focus and any hospitality being assigned secondary prominence.
To this end, integrity and transparency should be evident at all levels from venue, timing, and content to handouts, speaker selection, and, of course, hospitality when planning meetings that are ABPI compliant.
Pharmaceutical companies who operate under the sanctioned guidelines of the ABPI must make every effort to promote a positive perception by having a specific policy in place that clearly defines the hospitality offered during their meetings. Strict adherence to the rules must be practiced, otherwise the offending pharmaceutical company may be considered in breach of ABPI code, which can lead to serious and heavy penalties being levied against them.
Health care professionals and pharmaceutical companies alike must demonstrate open and honest relationships that project both professional and commercial responsibility. A situation that may offer the potential for conflict of interest must be avoided at all costs. It is essential for ABPI compliant factions to not only recognize instances where even the appearance of conflict of interest may exist, but to actively address and rectify this perception.
ABPI compliant members should actively promote the separation that must be evident between the dispensers of medicine and their manufacturers. It is incumbent upon these interested parties that prescription drug decisions be based on clinical need rather than any financial advantage for either the organization providing medicines or the ones responsible for dispensing them. Patient access to innovative medicine should never be compromised, which is why ABPI compliant members must ensure that careful and complete auditing measures are instituted at all conventions in order to safeguard their reputations and their ability to operate within the specified guidelines.
Meetings must be planned and projected with education taking centre stage. Of course, there is a thin line between blatant promotion and informational sessions. This is why ABPI compliant companies try to convene meetings that fall well within the specific principles of operation such as:
Timing: The hospitality provided should be directly proportional to the length of the meeting. For example, a simple one or two hour afternoon meeting would not justify planning a gala dinner and/or overnight complimentary accommodation. However, a meeting that might run from mid-afternoon until the evening could provide justification for these amenities.
Cost: The cost and relational quality of hospitality provided should be in accordance with the level of the meeting. If a renowned, international speaker at a quality venue is on the agenda, then a multi-course meal might be provided; if, however, a meeting featuring more local content held at a conference venue is held, such excess may be deemed inappropriate.
Advertising and Promotion: Meetings should be billed with the emphasis on education content rather than on location and/or hospitality provided. Promotional material that emphasizes the enhancements of the venue or festivities available may be construed as an overt attempt to lure attendees based on the provisions of the hospitality rather than the content. In order to ensure the meeting meets with APBI compliance, a meeting must be promoted with education as its chief function.
Because remaining ABPI compliant is such an integral component of their operations, many pharmaceutical companies have determined that it is in their best interest to hire industry certified venue sourcing organizations that specialize in convening pharmaceutical conferences that operate well within the ABPI Code of Practice. Although this in no way reduces the onus of responsibility for the pharmaceutical company, it does, however, offer a modicum of security and peace of mind that their meetings will always be conducted with ABPI compliance being the number one priority.
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