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Advertising and sponsorship


1. Purpose

This Policy determines the rules under which The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) will accept sponsorship of its products or events or advertising of third-party products.

This policy is to be read in conjunction with the Endorsement Policy, Complaints Policy, Declaration of Interests Policy and the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Program: Education provider handbook.

2. Background

2.1 Context

The RACGP is the respected national leader in setting and maintaining the standards for quality practice, education, training and research in Australian general practice.

The RACGP conducts a range of activities and maintains a variety of relationships with external organisations. These activities range from policy development to the delivery of goods and services to General Practitioners, GP Registrars and others.

Traditionally sponsorship and advertising within the health care sector has been provided by pharmaceutical and medical device/supply companies.

These external organisations often seek involvement through Sponsorship of RACGP Products and Events and Advertising of their Products in RACGP channels and media. The RACGP also actively seeks out relationships with others in recognition of the benefits such relationships bring in achievement of the RACGP’s objects.

This Policy recognises the nature of the Advertisements and Sponsorship may involve therapeutic Goods and incorporates safeguards for the RACGP to assist in avoiding breaching the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 (Cth) and other laws.

2.2 Scope

This Policy addresses the underlying basis for the RACGP’s relationships with potential Advertisers or Sponsors seeking to work with the RACGP.

This Policy does not apply to:

    • advertising of Products in which the RACGP holds a complete or partial ownership interest; or
    • endorsement of Products or Events covered under the RACGP Endorsement Policy.

In the event of any inconsistency between this Policy and the Constitution, the Constitution

prevails. 

3. RACGP Advertising and Sponsorship Guidelines

3.1 Overarching Policy considerations

    1. The RACGP as a member organisation representing its member General Practitioners’, needs to remain mindful of member wishes. To this extent, all proposed advertising is reviewed monthly by an internal advertising review panel to ensure due regard will be given to member perspectives, views and concerns. 
    2. The RACGP will not accept any Advertisement or Sponsorship or engage with any organisation promoting messages which in the RACGP’s opinion:
      1. is likely to be perceived by a significant proportion of RACGP members as anti-social, anti-environmental, divisive or controversial;
      2. conflict with any health message, clinical message, guidelines or position statements issued or accepted by the RACGP;
      3. come from Australian accreditation agencies approved under the National General Practice Accreditation (NGPA) Scheme, with the exception of purchasing space at conferences to use as booths.      
    3.  Advertising that promotes clinical or educational messages that are CPD Accredited or Pending Accreditation, will feature RACGP CPD logos or prescribed wording and must meet CPD Guidelines.
    4. All other advertising containing clinical or educational messages that are not CPD Accredited, and produced and hosted external to the RACGP, are classified as ‘advertorial’ and are not subject to CPD Guidelines.
    5. The RACGP may, at its discretion, refuse to publish any advertisement; and remove any existing advertisement from any Publication without notice.

3.2 RACGP right of acceptance

Independent of anything else in this Policy, any acceptance of or agreement for Advertising or Sponsorship must expressly include the RACGP’s final right of approval over any proposed Advertisement or Sponsorship. 

3.3 Conformity with the RACGP objects

The RACGP must not contract for the provision of Advertising or Sponsorship which is inconsistent with the RACGP’s objects outlined in clause 2 of the Constitution. 

3.4 Medical Professionalism and Ethics 

All Advertising or Sponsorship must be consistent with General Practice professionalism and,  in particular, must:

    1. Not be able to be construed as detrimental to the RACGP’s reputation ;and
    2. comply with the Australian Medical Association Code of Ethics

3.5 Therapeutic Goods

    1. Application

This clause  does not apply to Advertising or Sponsorship covered under:

      1. the CPD Guidelines for all Accredited Activities (in which case those Guidelines apply); or
      2. RACGP editorial policies described in clause 3.6.
    1. Compliance with law

 All Advertisers or Sponsors or their referring agents must certify (which must be incorporated into the written agreement) all Advertising or Sponsorship involving Therapeutic Goods complies with:

      1. the Medicines Australia Code of Conduct; and
      2. the Therapeutic Goods Advertising Code 2007
      3. any other applicable code or guide as authorised under the
      4. Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 (Cth); and
      5. the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 (Cth), as applicable.
    1. Pharmaceutical Advertisers or Sponsors

A General Practitioner’s primary obligation is towards the patient. The role of the General Practitioner is to hold the trust and confidence of the patient and to provide quality health care.

Relationships with the pharmaceutical industry can only be appropriate insofar as they  do not breach or distort the General Practitioner – patient relationship.

      1. General Prohibitions 
        1. The RACGP must not contract to advertise on RACGP promotional items (that is, items bearing RACGP branding) such as pens, notepads and branded items like clothing and accessories under any circumstances.
      2. Advertising or Sponsorship of Prescription Medicines 

In contracting for Advertising or Sponsorship of prescription medicines, the RACGP must be satisfied that the prescription medicines;

        1. must be accessible only by healthcare professionals in a manner and medium that prevents access by the general public;
        2. cannot appear in RACGP Social Media channels; and
        3. can appear in RACGP Events, Products and activities targeting the general public, providing all references, information or references to prescription medicines are omitted and clause 3.5 (a) is satisfied.

3.6 Policies involving publications and digital media

The RACGP produces a number of publications (in hard copy and online formats) that it  provides externally to members and industry stakeholders, including Australian Journal of General Practice (AJGP), newsGP, Check, RACGP websites and any other RACGP media that accepts Advertising and or Sponsorship.

All Advertising involving any of these publications and digital media must conform to the relevant editorial policies for that publication and or digital media. 

3.7 Independence

The RACGP must not contract for Advertising or Sponsorship if, in its opinion, that contracting undermines the RACGP’s independence or reputation, including the need to be, and be seen to be, free of undue influence or conflicts of interest.

For the purposes of this clause:

    1. undue influence occurs when the RACGP has been or is perceived to have been pressured to make a particular decision rather than an objective decision; and
    2. conflict of interest has the same meaning given in the RACGP’s Declarations of Interest Policy.

Advertising or Sponsorship that may undermine the RACGP’s independence or reputation includes activities or relationships that:

    1. provide revenue or benefit to the RACGP leading to ongoing dependency on the revenue or benefit; and
    2. create a product or service seen to be associated with the RACGP but over which the RACGP does not have control.

3.8 Transparency

Any relationship between the RACGP and an Advertiser or Sponsor must maintain professional autonomy, independence and commitment to the scientific method.

To ensure transparency with members, RACGP will name and acknowledged a Sponsor or Advertiser. For, advertorial and sponsored content within newsGP, AJGP, RACGP websites and any other RACGP media, the RACGP must clearly declare and mark advertorial and sponsored content prominently as “ADVERTORIAL” to accurately reflect the nature of the piece.

This principle is generally applicable except in connection with matters related to competitive advantage, trade secret or a reasonable agreement of confidentiality, or where contractual obligations of confidentiality are imposed.

In any contract between the RACGP and a Sponsor or Advertiser where an Advertiser or Sponsor is collecting personal information for the purpose of direct marketing, the Advertiser or Sponsor must:

    1. Comply with the Privacy Act 1988 (C’th), using and disclosing personal information for the purpose of direct marketing where reasonably expected by the individual; and
    2. Provide a visible, clear and easily understood process for opting out, which requires minimal time and effort.

3. 9 Complaints

Complaints regarding advertising or sponsorship of any kind will be handled in line with the RACGP Complaints Policy. Complaints should be lodged using the online submission form found here.

4. Non-compliance with this policy

A failure to comply with this Policy may result in the RACGP incurring unwanted or misaligned contractual obligations or responsibilities which can lead to significant financial or reputational risks. Any person breaching this Policy may be met with disciplinary proceedings. 

5. Amendment of this Policy

The CEO may, without the consent of the Board, make Minor Amendments to this policy at any time.

If the CEO makes Minor Amendments, he/she must advise the Board of those amendments as soon as practicable.

The Board may make amendments to this policy at any time.

6. Responsibilities

 

Board

Responsible for approval and endorsement of policy and any amendments.

CEO

Responsible for approval of policy and Minor Amendments.

 

 7. Glossary

Advertiser

An entity placing or proposing to place (for reward) an Advertisement for publication or other promotion by the RACGP in any medium in respect of a Product or Service.

Advertisement

Includes any statement, pictorial representation or design intended, directly or indirectly, to promote the use or supply of an Advertiser’s Events or Products.

Advertorial

Includes placement of sponsored content that looks and reads like a publication's content but is a paid advertisement.

Constitution

Means the Constitution of the RACGP, currently in force and as amended from time to time.

Event

Includes (without limitation) any gplearning, conference or other activity (whether or not of an educational nature), and may include a single event, a series of events, or a campaign.

Major Amendment

An amendment which materially changes the operation of the policy which is not otherwise a Minor Amendment.

Minor Amendment

An amendment to style, to correct grammatical mistakes, to change overall formatting, to make updates which do not materially change meaning, or any other amendment, which in the opinion of the CEO does not materially alter the operation of the policy. 

Partner

Means an entity providing financial benefit (whether or not “in kind”) and the shared delivery of services, in exchange for marketing and advertising opportunities. 

Product or Service

Means any good or service offered or proposed to be offered, in any medium, for commercial exploitation or otherwise in a market (including by a “not-for-profit” organisation).

Sponsor

Means an entity providing financial benefit to the RACGP (whether or not“in kind”) in exchange for marketing and advertising opportunities. 

 

Sponsorship

Means any financial or in-kind support for an Event or activity, providing recognition  or rights to the Sponsor in return.

Therapeutic Goods

Has the meaning given in the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 (Cth) and includes goods or medical devices represented to be:

Ø  for therapeutic use; or

Ø  for use as an ingredient or component in the manufacture of therapeutic goods. 

 

8. Related Documents, Legislation and Policies

 Policies

AJGP Policy on Advertising

Complaints Policy

Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Guidelines

Declaration of Interests Policy

Endorsement Policy

Compliance

This policy complies with all relevant legislation, in particular:

Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 (Cth)

Medicines Australia, Code of Conduct (19th  Ed, effective March 2020)

The Therapeutic Goods Advertising Code 2018 (Cth) 

Guidance

N/A 

9. Policy Review and Currency

This policy will be reviewed every three years from the last approval date, or when there is a significant change in the intent of the policy. This policy remains valid and applicable notwithstanding if it is overdue for review. 

Version history

Release notice

Version

Date of effect

Amendment details

Amended by

1.0

01/10/2021

Initial release

Head of Partnerships

National Manager, Commercial Strategy

 

Record no.:

 

Policy owner:

Board

Approved by:

Board                 

Approved on:

18/09/21

Next Review Due:

September 2024

 

 

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