ESMO 2014 & Spanish Regulations

ESMO shares the disappointment of journalists, patient advocates and other non-prescribers for not being admitted to areas and activities where the promotion of prescription-only medicinal products takes place; i.e. the industry area of the exhibition and Industry Satellite Symposia.

As an organisation working to disseminate knowledge in oncology, we would like to be able to offer every congress attendee full access to knowledge-sharing opportunities, which forms the foundation of our Congress philosophy.

As a respected organisation working with various oncology stakeholders, we have to abide by the regulations in the country where the Congress is being held, in this case Spain. ESMO has been legally advised that a Spanish national law (based on a 2001 EU Regulation) related to non-prescribers applies to medical congresses organised in Spain and we need to be  compliant with it .

In the future, congress organisers will have to review the way they organise their congresses and become more selective on the venues they choose, ESMO included. This will not protect us from last-minute changes in the law, either at European or local level, considering that preliminary activities on the choice of the congress venue take place years in advance. In any case, when rules apply, despite disappointment or non-agreement, ESMO must, and wants to abide by them to remain the respected Society we have become in the oncology field.

Journalists will have privileged access to the Congress programme and additional material to be able to accomplish their important work of disseminating the latest progress in the fight against cancer. Patient advocates will enjoy a dedicated programme track, will be able to participate in a European Advocacy-in-Action discussion forum and for the first time will be able to attend all scientific sessions.

Students and nurses, like all other Congress participants, will have full access to the Congress educational and scientific programme where they will be updated on the best practices that the oncology world applies today to offer patients with cancer the highest quality treatment they deserve.

We count on the understanding of those people affected by the restrictions imposed by the Spanish national law that it is not the intention of ESMO to prevent them from accessing important information, rather it is the duty of our Society to respect the law. ESMO is supportive of joining with other stakeholders to advocate for the modification of the EU regulation, something which we are already acting on. ESMO is also seeking further advice on the possibility that the current interpretation of the laws is reconsidered. Should this happen, ESMO would be very pleased to re-instate the previous situation and allow access to all parts of the Congress to every attendee.

We look forward to welcoming each and every participant to the ESMO Congress and we are confident that there will be ample opportunities for fruitful exchanges between all stakeholder groups attending!