Boehringer is holding its second #COPDchat today (29 April).
I wrote last year about the presumption of holding a chat prior to having put in a significant amount of groundwork building a community, and I still see no evidence of Boehringer having undertaken this (in my opinion, far more important) action.
However, Boehringer appears to have taken a further retrograde step on this occasion by making pronouncements regarding participation that it neither has the right to request, nor the power to enforce:
The disclaimer text regarding the chat’s intended audience (‘For Non US/UK HCPs, Medical Media & Professional groups only’) raises a number of questions:
Why is it there in the first place?
I assume this is Boehringer’s legal folk earning their keep and requiring the inclusion of what I infer they consider to be a necessary disclaimer in the banner advertising the event, but I don’t recall the first chat being singled out by regulators.
Being properly introduced — as, it should be pointed out, the first chat was — with the usual provisos about not being able to offer medical advice, and judiciously avoiding publishing any posts about disease management that could be deemed to be promotional, what regulations could Boehringer be said to be in breach of?
I’d say: none.
This is a battle that should have been fought and won internally.
Boehringer have put themselves in an unnecessary position where they will draw criticism where none need have been forthcoming. The company was not required to include this inflammatory disclaimer, and I should not be having to write this post.
Other questions follow on from this unfortunate decision:
How does Boehringer plan to verify the identity of the participants?
Having done so, what does it intend to do if people take part who do not match these criteria?
If Boehringer intends to attempt to prevent other stakeholders taking part, what right does it have to do so?
The short form answer to this question is: there is nothing Boehringer can do, and therefore this disclaimer is both confusing and redundant.
Why would a company that has aligned itself so closely with patient representation wish to exclude the very community it wants to be seen to be championing?
Far from being a ‘patients included‘ virtual event, #COPDchat expressly excludes them.
In short, this is a tangled mess of Boehringer’s own creation, and I’m disappointed that the event promotion includes this unnecessary and poorly considered disclaimer.