Strict rules apply to gifts and other financial benefits given by pharmaceutical companies to healthcare professionals.
The rules contain a general prohibition against giving gifts or offering financial benefits to healthcare professionals for marketing purposes or in order to increase the sale of medical equipment or medicinal products. But which financial benefits may then still be given legally by pharmaceutical companies to healthcare professionals?
- Gifts of an insignificant value which may be used in the recipient’s profession (e.g. pens, mouse pads, calendars, but not wine, chocolate, art). The total value for each healthcare professional may not exceed DKK 300 a year.
- Lending of medical equipment to healthcare professionals for demonstration for up to two months.
- Payment of a professional service when this payment is fair compared to the service, and the payment is provided as a direct payment (i.e. not by way of set-off, payment in kind or any other indirect way). A professional service is for instance participation in an advisory board or professional assistance in connection with clinical trials of medical equipment or medicinal products. It could also be assistance in connection with information material concerning medical equipment or medicinal products. It should be noted that doctors, dentists, nurses and pharmacists must apply for permission or register their affiliation with a pharmaceutical company with the Danish Health and Medicines Authority when receiving payment for a professional service.
- Representation by way of payment of direct expenses for meals, travels, accommodation and the like in connection with advertising and professional information on medical equipment and medicinal products when the representation is kept at a reasonable level and is clearly limited to the main purpose of the advertising or the professional activity.
- Professional information and training by way of payment of direct expenses for professionally relevant seminars, conferences, supplementary training and the like which healthcare professionals participate in or host when these activities involve information on medical equipment and medicinal products relevant for the participants, and when the representation observes the above guidelines.
- Representation and professional information held abroad when the reason for holding it abroad is justified by material circumstances in terms of content, practise and finance. It should be noted that, in these circumstances, the healthcare professionals must report this to the Danish Health and Medicines Authority.
- Sponsoring of meetings containing professional information on medical equipment or medicinal products held by healthcare professionals vis-à-vis the public when the sponsoring does not exceed the direct expenses for the meeting and when the representatives from the sponsoring company do not actively participate in the meeting.
The above benefits may be offered to healthcare professionals within the framework of the advertising rules for medical equipment and medicinal products. As stated, the rules are very restrictive, and the possibilities of providing financial benefits are limited. For example, it is prohibited to hold competitions for or offer prizes to healthcare professionals as well as paying for their participation in purely social or cultural events.