Streamlining Assessment of Third-Party Medical Events: Tips for Smooth Review

6th April 2023

Yana Budel, Compliance Advisor at GCO Global, shares practical tips for event submitters facing medical associations/societies or their Professional Conference Organizers (PCOs) regarding the Conference Vetting System (CVS) implemented by MedTech Europe and the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA).

In 2021, the European trade association representing the medical technology industries, MedTech Europe, and the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) joined forces to streamline the review and assessment of third-party organized medical events sponsored by their members. The main objective is to centralize the assessment processes of medical events in both industries through a Conference Vetting System (CVS).

Since its implementation two years ago, events have consistently been submitted and reviewed by compliance officers responsible for the assessments. During this period, common questions and concerns raised by the compliance officers have emerged, leading to the development of practical tips for event submitters facing medical associations/societies or their Professional Conference Organizers (PCOs). The tips below aim to make the review of an event smoother.

Tip 1: Scope – When do you submit an event sponsored by Pharma/MedTech Company?

For an event to come within the scope for a CVS assessment, it would require one of the two criteria below to be fulfilled:

  • The event is sponsored only by Pharma companies (EFPIA members), and the expected attendance, would be of 500 or more attendees from at least 5 different EFPIA countries[1]; or
  • The event is sponsored by either Pharma and MedTech company members, or only Med Tech member companies, and the expected attendees are from at least two different countries from the MedTech region[2].

Tip 2: Submission – Who is best placed to submit an event?

As per the assessment criteria an event can be submitted by one of the following parties:

  • EFPIA/MedTech Europe corporate members;
  • EFPIA/MedTech Europe National associations and associate members;
  • Healthcare Organizations (HCOs) including hospitals; 
  • PCOs.

When a medical society organizing an event sponsored by EFPIA/MedTech Company members confirms that the event requires submission into the CVS system, it is recommended that they inform all potential and confirmed corporate sponsors that the submission will be handled by the medical society or their PCO, and not by the individual sponsors. This helps to minimize the likelihood of industry sponsors submitting duplicate events into the system and prevents delays in assessing the events at a later stage.

Tip 3: Event Program – What is a compliant event program?

The event program is to be submitted in English. The start and end time of each day are to be indicated, together with a highlight of topics and speakers. It is considered as best practice to include:

  • that each full day consist of at least 6 hours of educational content (including coffee breaks and meals); and
  • that each half day consist of at least 4 hours of educational content (including coffee breaks and meals) (often this would be the first and/or the last day of the event);
  • that there are no unnecessarily long breaks/time gaps in the program (for example, a 2 to 3 hour break for lunch).

It is also a best practice to clearly show the time calculations in particular, where the start and end times of each day are highlighted. This is very likely to avoid additional questions from the assessors during the review.

The regulations governing the Life Science industry are constantly changing all over the world. This makes the regulatory environment complex and requires regular review and evaluation to understand its impact on your medical society/association. Therefore, GCO offers tailored solutions to help you understand and comply with industry rules, country codes, and laws. Our customized solutions assist you in managing potential risks and setting strategies to meet your sponsors’ expectations for complying with internal and external regulations. Get in touch with them at info@gcoglobal.com

Tip 4: Geographic Location: When/where should events be organized?

It is strongly advised that the selected geographic location for the event is not the main attraction. Questions from the compliance officers assessing the event will be raised in particular for locations, such as:

  • cities/locations, in the winter season, known for their winter sports/tourism. Such cities/locations should be avoided during the period between 20 December and 31 March; and
  • cities/locations, in the summer holiday season, known for their beach attractions. Such cities/locations should be avoided in the period between 15 June and 15 September.

Tip 5: Registration Fees – What is covered by the registration fee?

It is considered as best practice to upload a detailed list of what is covered by the registration fees. It should also include a short list of what is not covered by the registration fees. The information included on the list should match the information provided on the event’s website. For example:

  • The registration fee could cover access to the event, a public transport pass for the zone within which the event and the nearest accommodations options are located, and a networking dinner on the first day of the event. 
  • The registration fee does not cover any coffee breaks (food and beverages) provided during the event. Attendees are required to pay for these expenses on their own, or
  • The registration fee does not cover accommodation during the event period. Attendees are responsible for paying their own accommodation expenses. 

It would be advisable to exclude from the registration fee any activity organized by the medical society/association that can be construed as entertainment, or a social event (which is happening during the event days). It is considered a best practice to explicitly highlight (in the detailed list mentioned above and on the event’s website), that participation in such an activity is to be paid out by attendees themselves.

[1] Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, the Russian Federation, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom.

[2] Annex III (page 75) of the MedTech Europe Code of Ethical Business Practice (medtech-europe-code-of-ethical-business-practice-2022.pdf (medtecheurope.org)

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