This was the fifth IPCAA (International Pharmaceutical Congress Advisory) Association compliance seminar and there was, more than ever, the need for the medical societies, PCOs, code bodies and healthcare companies to exchange views and understand better how the needs of medical education, compliance and ethical behaviour can be met. All for the ultimate benefits of the patient.

IPCAA worked closely with ETHICS, the Compliance Officers’ professional association, to organise a programme that combined keynote presentations from leading figures in their respective fields with plenty of time for discussion and debate where everyone got a chance to raise their issues of concern and contribute their views. Under the seminar theme of “Reputation matters!!: The Value of Healthcare Compliance in Medical Education” we tackled the strategic big picture of the future of medical education and sought to clarify the, often still unclear, minutiae of day to day interpretation of the rules.

Opening the seminar Martin Hess reminded participants of recent events with VW and FIFA as examples from outside the healthcare sector that illustrated the huge impact that compliance shortcomings can have on a company or organisation. George Fife (Ernst and Young) started the seminar with the essential reminder that it is all about the patients. Research run by “Patient View” has shown an improvement of pharma reputation versus previous year amongst patient groups. Neverthless, a level of distrust continues, spanning a number of areas including pharma corruption scandals; absence of robust science when presentinig clinical data; etc.

«Our practices today will be assessed by the standards tomorrow»

That was an important observation made by a panellist. We must be prepared for future increased scrutiny. Solid documentation & review is crucial and necessary.

The main part of the seminar concentrated on important developments relevant to medical education and compliance. The two headline developments discussed were the, now approved, MedTech Europe Code of Ethical Business Practice with its prohibition of direct sponsorship of delegates to attend meetings and practical experiences with reporting ‘Transfers of Value’ by European Pharma, with Pan-European declarations just a few months away.

In the final session Andrew Winterburn (Ashfield) presented some interesting research from his company which investigated HCP’s preferences in medical education. Based on the results of the research, Andrew suggested that: “We should be thinking about conferences that are shorter, non-commercial and able to fit with an HCP’s personal learning journey.”

A comment that the ‘Building of trust between all involved groups is crucial’ was a good thought on which to end the meeting and look forward to developments over the coming year.