MedTech Europe, the European association of medical device companies, recently decided not to allow direct sponsorship of healthcare professionals anymore to participate in a scientific event organized by healthcare professionals. From 01.01.2018, the member companies of this association that decide to sponsor congresses, will do so indirectly, through a hospital or a scientific association. The hospital or scientific association will receive an “educational grant” from the company and then choose which healthcare professionals will benefit from this sponsorship; it is no longer the company that will decide who will be sponsored to participate in a scientific event organized by healthcare professionals.
At the Belgian level, beMedTech decided to follow the position taken by its European association. beMedTech will decide in the next months when the ban on direct sponsorship will come into force for the 230 medical devices companies that are members: at the earliest on 01.01.2018 and no later than 01.01.2020.
For companies that are neither members of MedTech Europe nor members of beMedTech, such as pharmaceutical companies, nothing changes. These companies can sponsor healthcare professionals either directly or indirectly. Indeed, the Belgian law allows both direct and indirect sponsorship of healthcare professionals. Article 10 of the Law on Medicinal products provides for several ethical rules which have been further elaborated in the Mdeon Code of Ethics. The prior visa procedure has been put in place to offer a guarantee to both companies and healthcare professionals that the sponsorship offered – whether direct or indirect – is ethical.