Executive Travel Directors Announces New Potential Benefits to Sunshine Act

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New Pharma Regulations Offer Potential Benefits for Meeting Planners

The number of HCPs deciding not to attend certain meetings as result of new federal regulations makes it slightly easier for planners to adhere to smaller budgets.

Planners are shifting gears in compliance with the Sunshine Act, in effect August 2013, and similar healthcare meeting regulations. Pharmaceutical companies must now legally require all vendors who interact with Healthcare Professionals (HCPs) in any way, including Advisory Boards, Investigator Meetings, honoraria and expenses, etc., to take mandatory compliance training. This training updates planners on new and ever-changing policies that are put in place by the FDA.

While such requirements generate extra work for meeting planners, pharma regulations can indirectly improve meetings and events and help planners stay within budget. Regulations require clients and stakeholders to manage HCP attendance more closely. This helps planners stay within strict budgets, which were drastically reduced as a result of the Sunshine Act, and provides them with attendee data that could help improve future programs. The number of HCPs deciding not to attend certain meetings as result of new federal regulations makes it slightly easier for planners to adhere to smaller budgets as well. HCP’s determine how much money they want to reveal as being collected from pharma companies and determine their participation based on these figures, which are now made public knowledge under the new law. Pharmaceutical companies compensate the HCPs for their sponsorship, and all transferred funds must be reported publicly.

Tightening pharma budgets influence some planners to turn to virtual meetings (i.e. using video conferencing for communication and presentations) as further means of slashing expenses. According to Lori Changes, an ETD Travel Director and pharma planner, virtual meetings have several cost-cutting benefits. Virtual meetings allow more individuals to “attend” or tune into a conference, giving presenters the avenue to reach larger audiences without the accommodation costs. When HCPs call in for a conference, it reduces the amount of compensation they receive for their time and knowledge. As explained in an article by Bruce Kennedy posted on MSN Money, fees collected by HCPs as compensation for speaking at pharma events can be considered “gifts” and are scrutinized by the Sunshine Act. Furthermore, virtual meetings and conferences eliminate travel expenses (transfers, hotel, air fare), that planners would otherwise be required to report under the new law.

Executive Travel Directors (ETD) is a Chicago-based company providing onsite logistical assistance to business meetings, incentive trips, and medical educational sessions. Since 1988, ETD has operated on respect for meeting planners and the success of their programs. ETD hosts a registry of over 2,000 travel directors and provides staff to more than 5,000 programs annually. For more information on Executive Travel Directors, please visit us at http://www.traveldirectors.com.

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Kim Korhonen
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