Addressing the shift towards virtual Third-Party Organised Educational Conferences

Posted on 15.07.2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the healthcare congress environment, at least in the short-term and medium-term. As the need for high-quality medical education and training remains a significant shift towards online and other virtual formats of providing education can be observed.

MedTech Europe strives to support the medical technology manufacturers to address the growing healthcare needs and expectations of their stakeholders. As part of this mission, the MedTech Europe Code of Ethical Business Practice (the “Code”) regulates all aspects of the industry’s relationship with Healthcare Professionals (HCPs) and Healthcare Organisations (HCOs), to ensure that all interactions are ethical and professional and to maintain the trust of all stakeholders, including regulators and patients alike. In that framework, the Code also regulates how companies can support Third-Party Organised Educational Conferences through monetary, in-kind and other contributions.

As long as such contributions comply with the Code (so that such support decisions are made objectively and not used as unlawful inducements to HCPs or HCOs), these arrangements can continue as conferences shift to a virtual format. In that context, MedTech Europe already clarified how and in what situations the Conference Vetting System applies to virtual Events in Q&A3 bis & ter.

The Code also fully applies for industry satellite symposia organised during Third Party Organised Educational Conferences, including aspects of access, content and delivery, whether the setup is virtual or not. The aspect of appropriate pricing for such virtual satellite symposia, and their Fair Market Value (FMV), are fundamental questions of commercial nature and need to be negotiated between congress organisers and potential sponsors/companies. Eventually, we expect that a FMV for virtual satellite symposia and more broadly for online/remote systems for the provision of Continuous Medical Education will establish itself over time, but it is a progressive switch based on the assumption that it is an equitable transaction for all parties involved.

From a MedTech Europe perspective, the determination of the value of supporting such new setups are left to the discretion and interpretation of individual companies. Nonetheless, as industry we believe in and understand the value of academic and clinical meetings, such as medical congresses and recognise the important role of continued collaboration between physicians and industry in the development of new technologies and improved solutions for patients.