Many pharmaceutical companies are sponsoring or organising scientific events such as lectures or symposia during which they can make known the results of their research as well as any development of their scientific activities.
The organisation of such events must comply with all applicable rules : on the one hand, Belgian laws and regulations and, on the other hand, ethical rules implemented by professional and industrial organisations.
The Belgian Law of 25 March 1964 on medicinal products provides that advertising and information, whether directed to the public or to the practitioners, may be regulated by Royal Decrees.
The Royal Decree of 7 April 1995 (which entered into effect on 1 October 1995) regulates the advertising and information regarding medicinal products for human use. This Royal Decree defines the advertising as any form of canvassing, providing of information, prospecting or inducing which is intended to promote the prescription, supply, sale or consumption of drugs, including the sponsoring of promotional meetings attended by persons entitled to prescribe or supply medicinal products and the sponsoring of scientific congresses in which those persons participate. With regard to these promotional meetings and scientific congresses, the Royal Decree of 7 April 1995 indicates that hospitality (including transportation and housing costs) offered by the organising company to the physicians attending such events is only allowed provided that it remains reasonable and accessory to the main objective of the meeting. Such hospitality may not be extended to persons other than health professionals. These rules reflect the EC Directive 92/28 of March 31, 1992.
Similarly, the ethical code of the Belgian Association of the Pharmaceutical Industry (AGIM/AVGI) provides that meetings of a scientific nature may be organised or sponsored when they are for the benefit of the professional community in general, i.e., provided they are not intended, by use of excess or useless ostentation, to induce or solicit individuals.
The code also provides that the activities of a scientific nature must be predominant within the activities undertaken in the framework of such meetings. The code indicates that the expenses regarding the scientific and material organisation of the event, including the hospitality (transportation, housing and meals) may be borne by the sponsoring company insofar as such hospitality does not become the purpose of the meeting in itself and that it remains simple and moderated. Other more specific rules deal with the organisation of the events, including the material presentation of the information disclosed.
The contents of this article are intended to provide general information on the subject matter. It is not a substitute for specialist advice.
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