A good relationship between the pharmaceutical industry and healthcare professionals (HCPs) is vital to continually drive improvement in patient treatment and guide innovation in the medical field. Clear, consistent communication between the two parties can provide important information to direct research and development for the pharmaceutical industry and, in turn, keep HCPs at the forefront of advances in clinical practice. The integrity of this relationship plays an irreplaceable role in the improvement of patient outcomes.

In order to protect this integrity, professional and industry associations, including the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA), and its member associations, have adopted codes and guidelines to eliminate the risk of the potential for conflicts of interest that might be created by relationships between the pharmaceutical industry and HCPs, including the EFPIA Disclosure Code.

The EFPIA Disclosure Code is a code of conduct by which all members of EFPIA agree to publicly disclose payments and other ‘transfers of value’ to HCPs and healthcare organizations (HCOs). It dictates that EFPIA members will have to disclose the names of HCPs and HCOs that have received payments or other transfers of value from them. The total amounts of value transferred (e.g. an honorarium), by type of activity (e.g. advisory board participation), will also need to be disclosed. The disclosure of this information must comply with local data protection and other applicable country laws.

Payments or transfers of value to an individual HCP include:

  • Fees for service and consultancy (e.g. speaking at and/or chairing meetings, participation at advisory boards)
  • Costs in relation to attendance at meetings, congresses, similar events etc. (e.g. registration fees, travel and accommodation costs)

Thursday 30th June marked the first public disclosure (retrospectively for the year 2015) by member states. Disclosures will be made annually and publicly from this date forward. This information will be published on the EFPIA member company’s own website or on a central online platform (via a national government body, industry association or other professional organization), and will remain available to the public for a minimum of 3 years.

What does this mean for us as a healthcare communications agency?

The EFPIA Code stands for integrity and transparency across the relationship between the pharmaceutical industry and HCPs. As a frequent and trusted intermediary between these two parties, it is of paramount importance for us to uphold these principles throughout our day-to-day interactions. At AXON, we believe that maintaining these standards is imperative to earn and to retain the trust of our clients.

Who are the compliance committee and what do we do?

The compliance committee in the AXON London office takes responsibility for keeping up-to-date with developments in legislation and disseminating this knowledge throughout the wider team. Through interactive training sessions and the development of educational materials we ensure best practice in compliance throughout the office. The committee is made up of members from our Medical Communications, PR, Events and Finance teams, allowing us to provide immediate guidance and support for any queries or concerns that arise from day-to-day interactions with HCPs across all streams.

Further to internal training and best-practice implementation, we feel that it is important for us to be able to provide support to our clients with any queries that they, or HCPs with whom they have a working relationship, may have about the EFPIA Disclosure Code. With so much information going around, it was our aim to provide tools to simplify the Code and provide clear guidance surrounding this important date. For this purpose, we have developed:

  • An unbranded letter for our clients that they can, in turn, provide to HCPs to explain the Code in clear language
  • A 1-page branded fact sheet of top tips and a summary of the implications of the Code

These materials will be distributed to our clients for immediate use, should they wish to use them. The compliance committee at AXON will continue to ensure best-practice among the team and provide support and guidance for our clients wherever possible.