Helderheid voor medische congressen
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Providing clarity for medical conference organisers

Maurits van der Sluis
Thursday, 31 January 2019

A medical conference must comply with the regulations. Maurits van der Sluis explains how organisers are supported in this regard at the RAI.

The regulations regarding pharmaceutical advertising particularly affect the organisation of a medical conference. In Amsterdam, various parties work together to ensure clarity and make it as easy as possible for event organisers to remain compliant. RAI’s COO Maurits van der Sluis explains how.

European regulations, Dutch application
Europe has uniform regulations for communications related to medicinal products for human use, and every member country has incorporated these regulations within their national legislation. In addition, the European self-regulating industry assocation EFPIA has a code of practice. In the Netherlands, these components come together in the Dutch Code of Conduct for Pharmaceutical Advertising (CDG). Particularly relevant to organisers of medical conferences is the segment stating that the promotion of prescription medicine may only be visible to professionals who are allowed to prescribe or supply medication, such as doctors and pharmacists. How can conference organisers ensure that this regulation is met? Thankfully, they don’t have to figure it all by themselves.

Independent advice
Amsterdam council, NBCT Holland Marketing, RAI Amsterdam, the Dutch Ministry of Health and the Inspection Board work closely together to ensure that every medical conference can proceed smoothly. The Inspection Board is responsible for enforcing compliance with the Code of Conduct on behalf of the CGR and provides conference organisers with dedicated advice.

The RAI brings medical conference organisers into contact with the right person at the Inspection Board in the early stages of preparation. The organisers can then submit their plans to the Board and receive in return custom advice on what they can and cannot do, along with alternatives for the latter.

Clear registration
What is required in almost all cases is a clear registration of the profession of each visitor, which must also be clearly visible on their badges. There are various alternatives for the layout of the conference. For example, a segment of the exhibition floor can be made accessible to professionals only and then have visible promotion of prescription medicine. Another option is for exhibitors to make a distinction at their stands, which means they can only promote medicinal products in one-on-one contact with professionals.

If the majority of the visitors are considered professionals, it may even be possible that the organisers don’t have to take any extra measures (although badges are always practical). This may apply to large-scale events that are primarily focused on international professionals (without patients). The Inspection Board can determine whether this is the case.

Click here for the Dutch regulations for medical conferences.

Short lines
There are other factors to take into account as well, including intrinsic presentations, hospitality and gifts. Organisers must prevent pharmaceutical companies from influencing professionals in ways that are not permitted. The Inspection Board can help in this regard too, and will send the organisers a comprehensive and clear letter with its recommendations.

For larger, international events it may be a good idea to discuss certain issues with the delegates in advance. In such cases RAI Amsterdam can invite the Inspection Board for an advance meeting and provide delegates with an opportunity to ask all their questions.

Simple in practice
While the regulations may seem complex, the practical situation is actually quite simple. Submit a conference proposal and you will receive personal advice on that basis. You can set up an event in such a way that meets all regulations. Organisers of large international conferences for medical professionals may not even need to take extra measures. Always make sure you start in time so that you can obtain the right advice and make the right decisions on the best setup. We are happy to help and bring you into contact with the right people.