The term F&B in the meetings industry refers to food and beverage. When it comes to medical meetings F&B, I like to use the term to “frustrate and bewilder” instead. Since the passage of the Physicians Payment Sunshine Act in 2010 (which was renamed to the National Physician Payment Transparency Program: Open Payments Act in 2013), reporting transparency of spend in the category of “F&B – meals” has not gotten any easier.
In fact, with 88 countries now having some type of healthcare spend track reporting, it has gotten even more complicated.
Why is medical meetings F&B so difficult?
How do medical meetings F&B reporting requirements vary by country?
Medical meetings F&B expenses must be reported in the United States.
The U.S. Congress passed the Open Payments Act (OPA) as part of the Affordable Care Act to shed light on financial relationships between drug and medical device manufacturers and doctors.
Why? The OPA enables patients to make better and informed decisions when choosing HCPs and deciding about treatments. The law also is meant to deter inappropriate financial relationships that might lead to increased healthcare costs.
Medical meetings F&B reporting is not required in Europe.
The Disclosure Act led by the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) does not require any F&B reporting of transfer of value from a manufacturer to an HCP.
Meeting Professional International’s European Meetings & Events Conference (EMEC) started with a distinctly Spanish flavor and culminated with a taste of Italy.
The three-day conference devoted to education, networking and business opportunities was all about passion, spirit and inspiration—or duende, as the Spaniards say—and it was indeed a fitting tribute to the success of the event.
Why? One simple reason – EFPIA did not think they could handle the administration of calculating these expenses.
What does the PhRMA code say about medical meetings meal caps and reporting?
Many companies follow the PhRMA code for their hotel and meal limitations. However, according to John Buchanan, reconciling those relatively longstanding, but vague, ethical guidelines with the new requirements under the OPA wreaked havoc for pharmaceutical companies and their meeting planners.
Although there are no formal rules under either PhRMA guidelines, concerns about optics have historically forced pharma companies to set strict and conservative limits on the amounts of money they can spend on hotel rooms, meals and other costs, such as transportation.
Today, OPA — which requires detailed reporting on a public website of every “transfer of value” to a doctor or other HCP who attends a meeting paid for by the pharma company — has led to even more conservative limitations on spending.
However, the great irony is that like PhRMA, OPA does not have any clear limits for medical meetings meal caps. Each pharmaceutical company sets its own limits – generally based on an abstract formula that includes PhRMA’s broad ethical guidelines, the specific reporting requirements of OPA, and sensitivity to optics.
What’s next for medical meetings meal caps and F&B reporting?
Unless there is a global set of standards that’s adapted and shared with all countries, the likelihood of simpler F&B reporting will not get any easier any time soon. Frustrating and bewildering, indeed!
Written by Pat Schaumann - This story originally appeared on the Maritz Travel Blog on February 24, 2017.
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