The 3 Pillars Of A Compliant Medical Congress

Written by GCO

November 26, 2020

It is no secret that the medical events sponsored by Pharma companies are subject to heavy scrutiny
and regulations. The matter is not helped by the fact that each country in the world has its own way of
setting and enforcing the applicable regulations. Also, each Pharma company has its own internal
guidelines and interpretation to the local country regulations, adding another layer of complexity to the
equation. When the event also has participants from more than one country the complexities continue

In addition to above, since the beginning of 2020, the world is facing an unprecedented occurrence – a
global pandemic – which poses still more and new challenges to the organization of medical events.
This has forced the industry to transform and to look even closer into laws and regulations in search of
guidance, which is often either not yet there, or provides for more confusion than clarity.

1. Advertising and content segregation

  • HCP definition: once you know which medical professionals are included within the HCP definition, the task of creating the appropriate access rights and building suitable content for those groups becomes more straightforward.
  • Separating out the promotional from the scientific content: providing proper guidance to your Pharma sponsors on exposing content to mixed groups.

2. Golden rules for Virtual Congresses

  • The hosting country conundrum: defining the hosting country for the virtual congress is the critical first step after which all compliance pieces should fall in place. In accordance with the most recent guidance from IFPMA, EFPIA and PhRMA, one of two approaches can be adopted – follow the regional code of the country where most of your participants would come from (historically); or if no regional code can be identified, then the IFPMA code is to apply. Note that it is best to separate out your hosting country in terms of finance from the hosting country in terms of Pharma compliance. The two may happen to overlap however.
  • The registration website: it is very important, just like for a live meeting, to build in functionalities to filter out the appropriate attendee groups. Firstly, so as to ensure that promotional materials will only be accessible to HCPs. Secondly, Pharma companies appreciate the detailed data you may be able to provide in terms of attendance (and interactions) at their virtual booth, Symposium and Oral/Poster Presentation. The virtual environment provides them with a unique opportunity for insight into said attendees current interests and trends on the subject matter.
  • Ensuring privacy: in case your congress is to happen entirely virtually, it is important to ensure that all attendees have provided their consent as to the way their information is to be used – be it personal information, their image, voice, or activity on the congress web-site.


Pharma companies who are members of EFPIA or are a member of an association that is a member of EFPIA, have disclosure obligations in relation to any sponsorship provided to medical associations (who are defined as HCOs in the EFPIA code). This includes funding for the purpose of organizing medical congresses and events. Therefore, it is advisable to keep detailed records about the spending of the allocated funds. This will enable you to satisfy any request for reporting of those funds, regardless of how elaborate it is.

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It is no secret that the medical events sponsored by Pharma companies are subject to heavy scrutiny and regulations

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