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Category Archives: phrma

Facebook and the FDA: Forcing Pharma’s Hand? (Slides + Audio)

Last week I caught a a very interesting webinar from WOMMA on Facebook’s new policy to no longer allow admins of pharma Pages to disable commenting on the content their Page — a very significant change in the highly regulated and scrutinized world of pharma marketing. The presentation covers the ins and outs of this change, which Pages will be affected, pros vs. cons, and predictions of its impact down the road. If you have an interest in pharma and/or health care marketing this is an informative presentation worth checking out during your lunch break.

Medical Meetings: Current Challenges and Emerging Trends

In her latest post, Funding 2010: CME to Sponsorship, Sue Pelletier of MeetingsNet covers challenges and trends arising from the current economic environment and the PhRMA and AdvaMed codes that came into effect January 2009. She discusses two medical meeting trends that have resulted from the challenges, product theaters and prospecting non-endemic companies as an alternative sponsors.

Product theaters really started popping up last year as a promotional activity that is still compliant with the PhRMA and AdvaMed codes, which greatly limit the giveaways and activities of pharmaceutical and biotech companies at medical conferences. Long story short: no more pens, pads, coffee mugs, key chains, or anything “fun” or not directly related to patient education of “modest” value.

In addition to product theaters, there was also a drastic increase of food in exhibit halls and giveaways like educational DVDs, thumb drives pre-loaded with product information, pocket guides, etc. One cool thing I saw were printable patient fact sheets, customizable with the doc’s photo and information.

Like the name states, product theaters give exhibitors the opportunity to purchase a time slot and lead a non-CME presentation to a small audience, and are often located in the exhibit hall. Exhibitors seem to find product theaters a compliant and effective way to get their message to interested attendees. Since they are a relatively new trend, it will be interesting to see how product theaters evolve and if exhibitors ultimately feel participation is a good return on investment.

I was a bit surprised to see that the article mentioned a professional medical society that allows promotional presentations in meeting rooms between regular educational sessions. This struck me as odd for two reasons:

(1) The product theater was outside of the exhibit hall. Although the article does emphasize the importance of clearly stating that the sessions are promotional in nature and do not offer CME, I wonder if this is walking the thin (and surrounded by gray area) line of the PhRMA code, which I’m sure most medical societies and compliance officers would be wary of.

(2) The time slots are offered between educational sessions. Where did they find the time? Most medical conferences have jam-packed schedules full of concurrent sessions.

The other part of the article that I found interesting was the practice of soliciting funding in the form of sponsorships from non-endemic companies whose products or services may appeal to medical conference attendees, and they don’t have to comply with the PhRMA code. The immediate question would then be how to determine your rules for exhibitors and sponsors concerning giveaways and activities. Pelletier warned that exhibitors who are compliant with the code may think it is an unfair advantage to allow, for example, a computer company, to give away the fun tsotchkes.

My thought: What’s the worst that could happen in you allow non-endemic exhibitors to distribute the traditional tradeshow giveaways? While they may have an advantage in generating traffic to their booth in particular, it will also increase exhibit hall traffic in general, which is good for everyone.

As always, I’d love to hear your input in the comments below.

Sidebar: Inspired by Lara McCulloch-Carter’s successful creation of the #eventprofs hashtag, I occasionally tag relevant tweets with #medmtgs. I’m probably the only person actually using this hashtag, but am hopeful more tweeps who find this stuff interesting will get on board.

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