Representatives have to take an appropriate examination within their first year of such employment and pass it in full within two years. The one and two year periods are calculated on the basis of the time employed as a representative, whether continuous or otherwise and whether with one company or more than one company.
The Director of the PMCPA is empowered by the supplementary information to Clause 16.3 to extend the one or two year periods in the event of extenuating circumstances such as prolonged illness or no or inadequate opportunity to take the examination. It is sometimes the case that when a representative applies for an extension, he/she calculates the one or two year limit from the date they first went out on territory. Companies are reminded that the 'examination clock' starts to tick from the day an individual is first employed as a representative, not from their first day on territory.
If a representative fails to take an appropriate examination within the first year it does not prevent him or her continuing to work as a representative in the second year. What it does mean is that in the absence of an agreed extension the company concerned would be in breach of Clause 16.3.
An application for an extension to the one year period should be made on a form available from the PMCPA. It should preferably be made by the company rather than the representative because it is the company which would breach the Code, not the representative. The application should be made before the one year period expires because, once it expires, the company is in breach of Clause 16.3 and Paragraph 5.6 of the PMCPA Constitution and Procedure would oblige the PMCPA Director to take the matter up as a complaint if told about it by the company.
The extenuating circumstances etc must relate to the particular representative rather than the company. A company cannot justify an extension by pleading, for example, that the problem arose because its systems were inadequate.
If a representative fails to pass the relevant examination within the two year period allowed he or she cannot continue to work as a representative and doing so in the absence of an extension would mean the company was in breach of Clause 16.3.
Here again, an application for an extension should be made on the form available from the PMCPA and should preferably be made by the company rather than the representative. The application should be made before the two years expires. As the representative’s career might be at stake in such circumstances, in considering an application for an extension the Director will, if possible, try to ensure that no individual is prejudiced by the failures of the employer.
Companies should have in place operating procedures which keep under review the examination status of all of their representatives, including contract representatives, and which can identify problems in advance of them happening. It appears from extension applications received that some companies do not have adequate procedures in this regard. Some companies seem to leave the matter to representatives themselves which is unsatisfactory because it is the companies which have to comply with the Code.
Companies are reminded that Clause 16.3, which states that ‘Representatives must take an appropriate examination …’ must be interpreted in accordance with Clause 1.7 which defines the term ‘representative’ as meaning a representative calling on members of the health professions and other relevant decision makers in relation to the promotion of medicines. Thus the term ‘representative’ is defined by role and is wholly independent of company job title.