The complex regulatory environment in Europe was the focus of a session during the international track at the Third Annual Pharmaceutical Meeting Planners Forum. Padraic Gilligan, marketing director and partner, Ovation Group, Dublin, Ireland, and Caroline Hill, strategic development manager — conference and events, Roche Products Ltd., Welwyn Garden City, U.K., outlined the many regulations related to pharma meetings in the European Union. There is the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations, the EU regulatory body that has its own set of rules; each country also has its own dictates when it comes to pharma meetings. And then there's the global code released recently by the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers, which applies to all member countries, including most in the EU.

While some pieces of the various codes are consistent — for example, spouses generally aren't allowed to attend educational sessions, and meals should cost what professionals would pay on their own — Ireland balked at the EFPIA's requirement that “venues can't be renowned for entertainment.” Instead, that country's code says that attendees can be entertained, but specific products can't be mentioned. When in doubt, Gilligan said, “Choose the strictest of the codes.”

Choosing a venue can be challenging, Hill said. “You have to move away from the star ratings and look at the actual hotel.”

For Gilligan's presentation, with a rundown of the various codes, visit www.ovation.ie, click on news, then click on Regulations and Meetings in the Pharma Sector.