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BMJ debates international medical conferences

The British Medical Journal carries a debate about international medical conferences and the environmental impact they have upon the planet.

Malcolm Green, professor emeritus respiratory medicine at Imperial College argues that face-to-face events should be a thing of the past in the medical world just as they are in many other industry sectors and that technology should be used to set up virtual conferences instead.

James Owen Drife
, professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at Leeds General Infirmary argues that fact-to-face meetings allow for more effective communication which engenders the inspiration to implement change and that other mechanisms of education fail to match up.

It is notable that the voluntary ethical code administered by the Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority (PMCPA) on behalf of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) contains clauses specific to this area noting that only economy travel should be funded and that "the venue must be appropriate and conducive to the main purpose of the meeting; lavish, extravagant or deluxe venues must not be used, companies must not sponsor or organise entertainment (such as sporting or leisure events) and companies should avoid using venues that are renowned for their entertainment facilities".

Action: Clinicians may want to consider the environmental impact of attending conferences. Clinicians should also ensure that any educational event is fully complaint with the Pharmaceutical Industry's own ethical code.