Lifelong learning

What is luxury when sponsoring HCPs?


Obviously, the pharma industry may not invite HCPs to a conference at a 5-star hotel. But what if the “Castle Resort” is just a 3-star hotel that tried to boost its market value by giving itself an extravagant title? We asked Julie Holtum Qvist from ENLI, the Danish Ethical Committee for the Pharmaceutical Industry for advice.

“The favorite answer of all lawyers is ‘It depends’”, she says. “People often perceive laws and rules as clear cut and somewhat rigid, but when lawyers apply regulation to real life, we take a lot of different factors into consideration. One of the questions we ask ourselves is ‘What was the rationale behind this law? Why was it created in the first place?’”, Julie Holtum Qvist adds. So why is a 3-star hotel with a luxurious name a problem?

Hard facts and soft factors

“First and foremost, all gifts and luxury have been banned for obvious reasons. In my view, the reason why cheap hotels with the extravagant names are banned is much more interesting”, says Julie Holtum Qvist. “ENLI is the Danish pharmaceutical industry’s self-regulatory body, and one of ENLI’s main purposes is to make sure the industry behaves ethically, and that this is how the public sees it, too. In other words, it’s not just about how the industry interacts with HCPs, it’s also about how this interaction will be perceived in the eyes of the man on the street”, Julie Holtum Qvist adds.

“So the question we have to ask ourselves is: What will the average consumer think when he or she hears that a big pharma company paid for doctors staying at a hotel called The Castle Resort? If you pose the question this way, the answer is not 100% objective, but it certainly isn’t up in the air, either. It is something in between, and it’s in the legal gray areas that lawyers get excited.”

You can meet Julie Holtum Qvist and learn more in our next course on Communication and Advertising to Health Care Professionals.

 Julie Holtum Qvist, ENLI, the Danish Ethical Committee for the Pharmaceutical Industry