Friday, February 20, 2015

Tales from the PMCPA contd. - The case of the beer drinking, lederhosen wearing, presenter

​A pulmonologist working in Germany, complained about a scientific symposium organised by Boehringer Ingelheim at the European Respiratory Society (ERS) Congress held in Munich.

The symposium was part of the industry sponsored sessions.  It was advertised in the official meeting programme as ‘Slowing disease progression in IPF [idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis]: New evidence From Phase III clinical trials’.

The complainant stated that his main complaint was that on the main stage, the speakers were allowed to drink beer – with one even dressed in lederhosen.  For a serious, fatal condition, this was not appropriate.  As two of the speakers were from the UK he assumed the UK rules should apply to them.

The detailed response from Boehringer Ingelheim is given below.

The Panel noted that the Code applied to the promotion to UK health professionals and administrative staff at international meetings held outside the UK.  Further, that the Code also applied to some non-promotional activities including the use of consultants in Clause 20.  The Panel noted that two of the four speakers at the symposium were UK health professionals and that Boehringer Ingelheim had sponsored UK health professionals to attend the ERS Congress.  The Panel therefore considered that at the very least certain aspects of the arrangements had to comply with the Code.  It was an established principle under the Code that the UK company was responsible for acts and omissions of its overseas affiliates that came within the scope of the Code.

The Panel considered that the involvement of the UK speakers meant that Boehringer Ingelheim was responsible under the Code for the arrangements for the UK speakers including their travel and subsistence and the impression created by these.

The Panel noted that one of the speakers appeared to be drinking beer on stage during the satellite symposium.  The Panel considered that the overall impression given was unacceptable.  The subsistence in this regard was inappropriate.  The Panel considered that high standards had not been maintained.  A breach was ruled.

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