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Linking transparency to reporting needs within event organisation

An increasing number of countries are implementing more rigorous requirements for publishing data and for the transference of values between physicians and pharmaceutical companies. Recently, France announced its so-called Touraine Law Decree, which is soon to be enforced. The amendment of the current policy will require that companies for the future must obtain approbation from the physician’s council before performing any transfer of values. Inevitably, such a requirement will impact the organisation of events, both when held in France, but also in an international context where French speakers will be participating. It is anticipated that more countries will follow suit and align their policies to the French regulation, thus similarly requiring consent from the physicians before proceeding with a transfer of value, e.g. in the Netherlands or Spain. As the number of webinars organised by companies is currently skyrocketing, now is a suitable time to address the relationship between events and the transfer of values.

The various transfers of values within an event

Event management within the life science industry is a source for transmitting values between companies and HCPs. When organising an event, several sponsors will be involved in the process, financing education of HCPs, honorariums for speakers, and expenses related to transportation. It can be challenging to maintain the full overview of the costs, wherewith we have developed this guide to help you manage your event-related costs efficiently.

Within an event, there are four major categories of fees incurred:

  • Sponsorships of attendees travel, board and lodging

Each of these categories must be handled differently. Note that each point might include one or more items that have not been listed, depending on national differentiations. Therefore, the categories should not be considered as fully disclosed. You can review the ABPI disclosure item here as an example. Additionally, the EPFIA has an interesting description, which you can access here. We find these four points essential for analysis.

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Expenses type Essentials by BASE life science

As a point of departure, let us focus on the sponsorship of attendees, which presumably is the most straightforward cost to manage. Each country has standards restricting the fee per item, thus providing excellent guidance on the maximum price allocation for an attendee, regarding expenses such as board and lodging. To ensure efficient management of the costs associated, we recommend registering the no-show HCPs on a list. Typically, it will be necessary to differentiate between the no-shows included in the meal count and those who were not. This distinction is essential to avoid that costs exceed the limit, thus enhancing the chances of compliance with the relevant authorised figures.

To change the focus, let us elaborate on the registration fees associated with the categorisation of the various events entailing sponsoring of HCPs. In many scenarios, local HCPs attend local activities, yet there might be limited value to invite a local Italian expert to participate in an event in for instance Ireland. However, such a move is not always considered appropriate by the HCP, the company, nor the authority. Therefore, it is crucial to ensure that there exists a match between the HCP and the event type. The management of the fees themselves should not be posing any challenges, as documentation of offers from the organiser should be the only proof required by the authorities.

Compared to the two attendee-categories, dealing with speakers’ honorarium can prove to be more of a challenge. In most countries, honorariums must align with the fair market value (FMV rate) based on the individual speaker’s experience, position, and competencies. The provision of an FMV rate forces companies to ensure that each potential speaker receives an offer in accordance with the predetermined and thus approved rate. Therefore, the process of allocating compensations to the speakers must account for fixed rates, considering the different levels of expertise. Multiple companies offer services in this area, but it is possible to efficiently manage the costs in-house with the support of the compliance department.

Speaker-related fees, including pre-event transportation and post-event transportation, should be handled similarly to those of the attendees. Nevertheless, the breadth of the expenses may be slightly different. Preparation fees are categorised as either an expense or as part of the honorarium, thus requiring a mutual agreement between the involved parties, usually resolved by setting the threshold for each type of cost.

Including the contract as an event

In light of the captured data, such cost allocations can be considered contractual obligations. Whether the arrangements should be included within the event management process is another concern, and if so, what tools should be applied? A straightforward approach is to collect all contracts that are directly connected to the event in a record, excluding broader agreements that should be kept separate in another system.

Nevertheless, with the field force being the originator of most of the HCPs contracts, it may make sense to only leverage one solution to store the contract as this provides a single point of entry for most of the transfer of value data. Such a system could include contractual documents such as grants or donations to patient organisations or more event-based contracts such as joint working agreements for organised workshops.

What about the rest

If a company decides to collect all contracts in a separate system accessible to the field force, standardisation of the process for settlements might be required to ensure enhanced transparency. Maintenance of just one approval-process is undoubtedly more straightforward than replication across multiple systems. Nevertheless, this may band specific systems and limit usability. It is crucial to prioritise excellent user experience, wherewith the number of entries should be kept in mind. Despite a requirement of transparency, user experience should not be comprised, wherewith adoption of a contracting tool seeking to create and approve contracts might be more valuable than integrating this process in the CRM.

About BASE life science

BASE life science is a fast growing, fast paced consultancy focused on the life science industry. Established in 2007 and based in Copenhagen, Denmark, BASE targets a local as well as a global customer base.

Since inception, BASE life science focuses on helping Life Science companies create real business value from digital platforms and data within its area of expertise; Commercial Excellence, Clinical, Regulatory Affairs and Quality & Compliance. Since 2007, the company has been active globally from Denmark and employs more than 50 employees.

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Read our whitepaper: Commercial Technology supports Pharma in increased Competition

About the author — Luca Morreale, Head of Operations, Switzerland

Highly motivated consultant focused on solving commercial & pricing challenges for Life Sciences companies through advisory, assessment or implementation services. Pragmatic & result driven with a strong ability to lead a team in a complex environment to achieve project goals. Ability to provide insights both at the strategy level as well as the operational level.

BASE life science is a fast growing, fast paced consultancy focused on the life science industry.

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