Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Pharma Sales Meetings

Pharmaceutical sales meetings provide a forum through which companies can exchange and present information about a variety of matters relating to research, medical education and clinical development. While the provision of hospitality is a natural part of such gatherings, any pharmaceutical sales meetings must have a clear and primary educational content in order to comply with the code of practice of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI). The code requires companies to have a specific policy on pharmaceutical sales meetings and hospitality, with the possibility of heavy sanctions being imposed against any company found to be in breach of the code.

Achieving the right balance between hospitality and educational content is, therefore, an essential part of planning pharmaceutical sales meetings. This can be a complex process, requiring you to ensure that such factors as the location, venue, equipment, activities and all other aspects are appropriate to the educational content of each event. While the ABPI code does not place a total ban on promotional content at pharmaceutical sales meetings, educational content should always be emphasised as the primary purpose.

When combined with the many other issues that organisers of pharmaceutical sales meetings have to consider in order to ensure the success of such events, this additional need to satisfy the code can pose a difficult and time-consuming task. For this reason, some companies are availing themselves of the expertise of venue finding organisations that specialise in arranging pharmaceutical sales meetings. As well as locating a suitable venue, such agencies can ensure that all aspects of your event comply with ABPI requirements. By choosing a venue finding agency that is certified by an industry consultant you will not surrender responsibility for your event's compliance, but you will know you have the support and advice of an organisation with a comprehensive knowledge of the code's requirements in regard to pharmaceutical sales meetings.

In addition to sourcing locations and venues for pharmaceutical sales meetings, a venue finding agency is willing and able to take care of a diversity of other issues for you, while making certain your event is acceptable under the ABPI code. As well as saving time and providing you with peace of mind, this expertise can also save you money. Funded by conference venues and hotels, venue-finding agencies are able to offer their services free of charge to organisers of pharmaceutical sales meetings. They have extensive knowledge of the types of venues available and are also well qualified to negotiate the best price for your event on your behalf.

Mindful that pharmaceutical sales meetings must achieve the right balance between education and hospitality, venue finding agencies can advise you on all relevant matters and whether they are acceptable to the ABPI code. These could range from the quality of the hospitality to the type of equipment. For example, expensive resorts may be suitable venues for large pharmaceutical sales meetings featuring international keynote speakers, but could be regarded as inappropriate for smaller functions attracting only local guests. Problems could also arise if materials used in association with the meeting, such as letters, handouts and stands, do not comply with the code. These are areas where a venue finding agency that is familiar with the code and its requirements for pharmaceutical sales meetings can help with expert knowledge and advice.

Care is also needed when selecting accommodation for guests attending pharmaceutical sales meetings. If the quality and cost is considered to be out of proportion to the purpose of the meeting, hospitality rather than education could be seen as the primary purpose. This in turn could be regarded as a breach of the code. Rather than risk such a possibility when planning pharmaceutical sales meetings, you can discuss the arrangements with a venue finding agency to ensure they comply with the code. If required, the agency can also look after the other time-consuming matters connected with arranging accommodation for a number of people, such as negotiating rates, organising room allocation, taking bookings enquiries and confirming reservations.

The activities offered at pharmaceutical sales meetings are also subject to the requirements of the ABPI code of practice. They must be professional and relevant to the main educational purpose of the meeting and should not be included in your agenda if they are designed mainly for entertainment. While sporting activities, for example, may be acceptable to your guests, either as participants or spectators, such activities would not be acceptable if offered as part of the programme at pharmaceutical sales meetings.

Deciding what is acceptable to the ABPI code of practice is a challenging task for organisers of pharmaceutical sales meetings. Your event must not only achieve the right balance between hospitality and education, but must be seen to do so. By seeking the help of an agency with specialist knowledge of both the organisation of pharmaceutical sales meetings and the requirements of the code, you will make your task much easier.