On 21 February 2019, WECAN held a workshop on its project “Reasonable Legal Agreements between Patient Advocates and Pharmaceutical Companies” at Fleming’s “Corporate Compliance and Transparency in Life Sciences” conferences in Zürich, Switzerland. In attendance were around 100 leaders of compliance and legal departments in pharmaceutical companies and related service providers.

In the workshop, Jan Geissler presented the status of WECAN’s collaboration project on reasonable legal agreements, the motivation why patient advocates initiated this project, the guiding principles which have been released in October 2018, and the upcoming contract templates. Afterwards, to turn the word “workshop” into reality, participants had to do a practical group exercise: They were provided with a sample 2-page speaker agreement with a number of ambiguous clauses (which were received in reality by patient advocate Jan in the past half year, so the example was not made up), copies some some hypothetical but realistic email correspondence between the patient advocate and the company, and a copy of the guiding principles.

Participants were divided into groups. Each group was asked to select two clauses from the contract which they would discuss. Then, they were asked to put themselves into the shoes of a patient advocate and discuss which terms they would request to change to be able to do their advocacy work. They were then asked to change hats again and discuss as industry representatives which of those requested changes they would accept or reject.

Lively discussions emerged about the loss of intellectual property and transfer of rights on ideas the advocate would bring into the meeting, about compensation for travel time when the advocate is absent for 1.5 days but compensated for only three hours, about the appropriateness of three-way travel on advocacy duty, and about where confidentiality would be required. Some open questions remained, e.g. to what extent the same rules apply to the medical technology industry.

For learning purposes, all material of the workshop is available for download here.