An anonymous, non-contactable complainant alleged that the majority of exhibition stands at a European congress held in London in 2015 were extremely extravagant and in poor taste considering today’s economic climate. Three examples were given including that Mylan had an ice-cream stand. The complainant stated that there was a real party atmosphere rather than a true scientific congress atmosphere which he/she expected in such stands.
The detailed response from Mylan is given below.
The PMCPA’s guidance on items at conferences and exhibition stands stated that the Code allowed the provision of hospitality at scientific meetings including from an exhibition stand; hospitality provided from an exhibition stand must be subsistence only and not such as to induce a delegate to visit the stand eg no more than non-alcoholic beverages, such as tea, coffee and water, and very limited quantities of sweets, biscuits or fruit. In the Authority’s view hot dogs, ice-cream, waffles, etc should not be provided at exhibition stands.
The Panel noted Mylan’s submission that frozen yoghurt rather than ice-cream was available from its stand. It was chosen to provide a healthy and balanced alternative to sweets or biscuits and the costs did not exceed the level which the recipients would normally adopt when paying for themselves. The Panel noted the cost per serving and the number of servings over the four day period.
The Panel considered that it was important for a company to be mindful of the impression created by its activities; perception and cost were important factors when deciding whether subsistence was appropriate. In the Panel’s view, the availability of frozen yoghurt from the Mylan stand went beyond the provision of subsistence and was contrary to the requirements of the Code and a breach was ruled. High standards had not been maintained and a further breach was ruled.
The Panel noted that the complainant had made a general allegation that the majority of the stands at the congress were extravagant. The complainant, who had the burden of proving his/her complaint on the balance of probabilities, had not provided any material to support his/her allegations in this regard; it was not clear from the complaint what aspect of the stands were ‘extremely extravagant and in poor taste considering today’s economic climate’. As the complainant was non-contactable, it was not possible to obtain more information from him/her. A judgement had to be made on the available evidence. In the Panel’s view the complainant had not shown that the Mylan exhibition stand was unacceptable as alleged. No breach of the Code was ruled.