Medical Conference Ethics Revised
Walter Eisner • Wed, January 10th, 2018
On January 3, 2018, four of the top medical device industry association in the world announced they've revised their code of ethics to remove direct sponsorships for healthcare professionals' attendance at medical conferences and other third-party educational events.
A joint statement by heads of the groups noted the revision of codes of ethics in China (the AdvaMed China Code), in Europe (the MedTech Europe Code), in the Middle East and North Africa (the Mecomed Code), and in the Asia-Pacific region (the APACMed Code).
The statement says one of the key revisions in these codes is the elimination of “direct sponsorship” of healthcare professionals’ attendance at third-party educational events, such as medical conferences and congresses, effective January 1, 2018. “Direct sponsorship” means those situations in which a company selects and pays for an individual’s registration fee, travel, lodging, and meals/hospitality to attend a third-party educational event.
"Effective January 1, 2018," says the statement, "companies will no longer select or influence the selection of specific attendees at third-party educational events; directly arrange or pay for attendees’ travel, accommodation and/or registration; or reimburse the expenses of specific attendees at third-party educational events."
The organizations said they were trying to strike a balance between transparent interactions and the need for healthcare professionals to “make independent decisions regarding patient care and treatment,” which could be unintentionally influenced via direct sponsorships.
The ethics code revisions will change how companies support third-party educational events.
Companies can offer educational grants and sponsorship to third-party conference organizers, health care institutions, and/or professional associations to enable them to select HCPs to attend third-party educational events.
Companies will also continue to host and support technical product and procedure training, and educational meetings, which instruct attendees "on how to safely and effectively use our companies’ complex, life-saving products. With the end of direct sponsorships, the organizations say the anticipate that companies will have "more resources to devote to high-impact training and education opportunities based on companies’ individual educational strategies."
The statement notes that the revisions follow a global trend that began to move away from direct sponsorship some time ago, as in the U.S., Australia, and other countries such as Sweden and Russia.