Aligning the European Pharmaceutical Industry on a quality approach for industry funded and led Lifelong Learning in Healthcare activities

Eva Hofstädter-Thalmann, Janssen & Damian Largier, Pfizer

Co-chairs of the EFPIA Working Group on Lifelong Learning in Healthcare.
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Lifelong Learning is defined by the European Commission as all learning activity undertaken throughout life, with the aim of improving knowledge, skills, competences.1 To ensure that the quality and conduct of industry funded or led Lifelong Learning in Healthcare (LLH) activities are aligned, EFPIA members recognised the necessity to agree on the scope and direction of Member Companies' practices. Therefore, the drafting of an EFPIA guideline for its member companies has been launched.
The pharmaceutical industry in Europe has a legitimate role, along with other stakeholders, to share evidence to ensure that medical innovations are used safely and in the appropriate patient populations. To keep up with the speed and breadth of scientific and medical progress, a variety of LLH providers are important for the rapid diffusion of new knowledge in healthcare. The pharmaceutical industry is an important, high quality and complementary channel for LLH.
To ensure a broad input into the LLH quality guideline external stakeholders, representing medical societies, academia, healthcare professionals, and patient organisations, were invited to provide feedback on the industry LLH guideline during an Advisory Round Table meeting last year. The most recent document published on the EFPIA website incorporates this feedback which includes:
  • The newly suggested terminology “Lifelong Learning in Healthcare” is clear and resonates well as a title for pharmaceutical industry provided non-promotional education.
  • The suggested formats of engagement (Independent Medical Education (IME)/Collaborative Partnerships/Industry Provided Education) required some clarification both in definition and context to stakeholders outside the industry.
  • Collaboration was mentioned as important for future engagement between medical associations and the industry.
  • The principles incorporated in the guideline were well accepted and regarded as having relevance to all medical education.
  • However, there remains a concern by external stakeholders regarding an inherent bias in any industry-led education.
By separating promotion from LLH activities and introducing a quality guideline for industry funded or led LLH activities we hope that the transparency of industry activities will increase.
The purpose of this recently published document is to provide a guideline for the implementation of EFPIA Code Article 16, which will be modified to ensure consistency with the guideline. The guideline must be read with the requirements and spirit of the Code in mind and in accordance with applicable local country laws and regulations.

1. Communication from the Commission COM (2001) 678 – Making a European Area of Lifelong Learning a Reality.

We would like to thank all industry and external stakeholders for their input and constructive dialogue that have helped launch this document to ensure a transparent and aligned approach to European pharmaceutical industry LLH activities.