New ABPI Code training launched

pharmafile | February 11, 2010 | News story | Medical Communications ABPI, Code of Practice, Compliance Hub, Tonic, training 

A new training course specifically aimed at making PR and marketing agencies compliant with the ABPI Code has been launched.

The Agency Recognition and Training Scheme (ARTS) is run by Steven Gray Consulting (now rebranded Compliance Hub) and developed in collaboration with healthcare agency Tonic Life Communications.

Tonic’s managing director Neil Flash argues that specificity is what makes ARTS useful for people who work in communications.

“It covers day to day, bread and butter issues like meetings, dealing with the media, patients, advocates and digital,” he says. “Practice-based understanding of what you can and can’t do is important.”

For a yearly membership fee of £4,500, companies get training plus monthly updates summarising key points from case rulings relevant to the coms industry from the previous month.

This is vital because the PMCPA, which enforces the Code, judges cases against those which have played out before, Flash argues.

“The PMCPA rule based on precedent, so knowing what has happened is important,” he says.

While not accredited by the ABPI – which runs its own training – ARTS has won plaudits from pharma companies.

“It is well designed, easily digestible and provides practical and common sense guidance on what agencies need to know in order to remain on the right side of the regulations,” said Dr Asad Khan, medical affairs and compliance manager at UCB Pharma.

Trained companies also get access to a searchable online case history database and one hour of free code consultancy from the Compliance Hub team per quarter.

Flash says this can be used to allow agencies to test out ideas to see whether they would be Code-compliant.

Around half of Tonic Life’s clients require Code-adherence to be proved before the agency is engaged, he adds.

“There is an ever-growing need for agencies working with the pharmaceutical industry to be on top of the Code,” says Dr Stephen Huang, Chiesi’s medical director.

“In the very near future, demonstrable Code training will likely become an essential part of every agency/industry contract,” Huang concludes.

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