Compliance News in Review, October 5, 2015

CMS releases a new teaching hospital list and de minimis thresholds, ICD-10 is launched, New Hampshire investigates manufacturers of painkillers, and the UK Ministry of Justice reverses its position on expansion of the law.

It is fall y’all! Okay, so the stars and the calendar may have said fall arrived a couple of weeks back, but it just doesn’t seem real until we hit October. The air gets a little crisper, the leaves start changing, and we sadly reach that point when we hope against hope that we can make it through the night without turning the thermostat to “heat.”

Before you know it, all the pumpkins and scarecrows will give way to mistletoe and snowmen (insert collective groan here). Before we all run out for the annual jump into the pile of leaves, let’s grab a cup of cider and your favorite pumpkin spice treat, and review all the compliance news fit to blog, with this edition of the Compliance News in Review.

October first was quite a busy day! First, CMS released the teaching hospital list and de minimis thresholds for Open Payments. In 2016, payments to Covered Recipients of $10.22 or higher will have to be reported and the annual aggregate reporting threshold will be $102.99.

Second, Medicines Australia’s new transparency requirements went into effect. Even though the Code of Conduct was effective in May of this year, implementation of the new transparency requirements was delayed until October. One of the major changes in the transparency requirements was the requirement to report at an individual HCP level rather than in the aggregate.

Finally, October 1st was the “go live” date for ICD -10 (International Classification of Diseases, 10th edition). ICD-10 is the set of diagnostic and procedure codes used by healthcare providers to bill insurance providers and government healthcare programs. The transition to ICD-10 was mandated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and is intended to provide more detail over the previous coding system. CMS says ICD-10 will help better “accommodate future healthcare needs, facilitating timely electronic processing of claims by reducing requests for additional information to providers.” While specificity can be a good thing, could ICD-10 be taking it a bit far? Check out some of the more unique codes in the new system. A couple of our favorites are “W56.22xA- Struck by an Orca, initial encounter,” (which apparently spawned a whole book) and “W49.01XA Hair causing external constriction, initial encounter,” also known as the Flynn Rider Code.

New Hampshire is turning a cold shoulder to opioid makers. The state’s Attorney General’s Office has announced it will be investigating the marketing practices of several manufacturers of painkillers. The AG’s Office believes the companies may have engaged in fraudulent marketing practices, which may have misled doctors and patients about the addiction risks and effectiveness of drugs.

The UK is changing its colors regarding expansion of the Bribery Act. Prosecutors had been petitioning to expand the law to make it easier to prosecute businesses involved in bribery, but in response to questions from lawmakers about the proposed changes, the Ministry of Justice said it was no longer interested in pursuing the matter. The response said there was “little evidence of corporate economic wrongdoing going unpunished.”

Conflicts or confluence – decisions, decisions. A recent editorial in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) makes a case for falling away from using the phrase “conflicts of interest” when describing the secondary interests involved in clinical research. The authors suggest “confluence of interest” instead. They say “conflicts of interest” automatically sets up the notion that something wrong is taking place. The authors point out that in academia, notoriety and fame could be a stronger influence on bias than financial reward. Universities, research institutes, the NIH and medical journals can all impact bias.

October has certainly started with a bang, in the world of physician spend transparency, both here in the U.S. and abroad. The news offers a good reminder that transparency and disclosure measures are constantly evolving. Yet another change will be upon us in 2016 with the removal of the exclusion for speaker of faculty payments for accredited CME.

With all of the changes in motion, now is a perfect time to refresh your company’s training on the requirements of the Sunshine Act and Open Payments. Ensuring your team is aware of the changes is critical, and those in the field need to understand the impact the law has on the healthcare providers they interact with on a regular basis.

That’s a wrap on this edition of the Compliance News in Review. Enjoy the cool weather everyone and have a great week!

CBI’s 9th Annual Forum on Transparency and Aggregate Spend: A Review

CBI’s recent Forum on Transparency and Aggregate Spend covered a variety of topics affecting the collection and reporting of aggregate spend data. The conference featured speakers from industry, government agencies, and service providers sharing lessons learned and best practices related to aggregate spend collection and data disclosure.

After a day of pre-conference workshops, the main conference began on Day Two, and it started with a bang. The keynote address, An Update on Open Payments Reporting, was delivered by Doug Brown, CMS Group Director, Data Sharing and Partnership Group, Center for Program Integrity. Mr. Brown shared statistics on the data submitted for the 2014 reporting year. 11.4 million records were received, covering 600,000 individual physicians. In a vast improvement over the previous year, 98% of submitted records were accepted. Brown attributed this improvement to the introduction of the validated physicians list (VPL) and better data matching. An analysis of rejected records is underway, and CMS is looking for ways to improve the taxonomies associated with covered recipients.

During the review and dispute period, CMS received 30,000 disputes on 25,000 unique records. The disputes were evenly distributed among the covered recipient type, with physicians representing 35% of disputes, teaching hospitals 38% and principal investigators 27%. According to Brown, disputes were evenly split between the general and research payments reports. Very few disputes were lodged against payments reported on the ownership report. The median value of total payments is 4.5 times greater for registered physicians versus unregistered physicians.

Brown also shared information regarding the anticipated enhancements to the Open Payments system. The restrictions around special characters in the text fields will be removed (cue the heavenly choir). CMS is also working to better facilitate the review and dispute process. According to Brown, many of the disputes were not true disputes, but could better be classified as inquiries. CMS is working to provide a method for distinguishing between a payment inquiry and a payment dispute. The agency is also working to enhance the ability for manufacturers to download their data from the site, regardless of the file size, and it hopes to extend this capability to covered recipients as well.

Brown reminded the group that new de minimums payment information and the list of teaching hospitals will be released on October 1st. CMS is planning more Q&A teleconferences in the future. Speaking of which, during the Q&A period following the presentation, Brown was asked about having a moderator on teleconferences to alleviate the “wild west” that currently exists when the call opens up for participant questions. He said that was something he would absolutely consider, but he prefers the conversational style of the current format.

William Killian, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee, and Jacob Elberg, Chief, Healthcare and Government Fraud Unit, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey, also presented on behalf of the government. They discussed current trends in government enforcement. Mr. Killian said emerging enforcement trends in his and other offices involved fraud related to Medicare Part D, lab services, hospital services and hospice care. He noted that the civil and criminal prosecutors are often involved in parallel prosecutions. Mr. Elberg referenced a continuing trend in his office involving the prosecution of kickback cases. He said those cases are typically at the individual practitioner level, and occur locally or globally. Cases that involve activities outside the U.S. can implicate the FCPA and his office shares information with FCPA fraud units. Elberg also discussed other continuing trends involving FDCA prosecutions, including those involving off-label promotion and cGMP violations.

Rounding out the “law-focused” presentations for the day was a presentation about state laws by Brian Bohnenkamp of King & Spalding. Mr. Bohnenkamp led off by discussing federal pre-emption and how it relates to state reporting. He noted that there are times where the reportable items under federal law are not reportable under state law (and vice versa), and reminded the audience of the criteria for pre-emption under the Sunshine Act. He suggested that decisions on whether pre-emption should be applied to a particular payment should be made on a case-by-case basis. He also noted that they are seeing more companies take advantage of federal pre-emption in reporting under state laws, and used the example that a number of companies did not have anything to report under Minnesota’s law due to that pre-emption. Bohnenkemp also highlighted the recent exemption in D.C.’s detailer licensing requirement for individuals who are involved in detailing for “less than 30 consecutive days per calendar year,” and he reviewed prescription drug pricing transparency proposals in a handful of states – one example being Massachusetts, which still had not provided guidance about quarterly meal reports reported under that state’s law.

The majority of the rest of the Day Two sessions focused on data and processes directly related to interacting with the Open Payments system. Sessions and panel discussions covered topics such as leveraging the data within the organization; using data to minimize compliance risk; and remediating data and the data attestation in Open Payments. Two key themes emerged: 1. Clean data is key (the garbage in garbage out idea) and 2. Communication with the organization and those outside the organization (your vendors and physicians) about the data is critical.

A number of speakers and panelists in the sessions stressed the importance of consistency in names, addresses, and format for physician ID numbers across the various in-house and vendor systems that house spend data. A periodic review of the data is an important best practice to deal with any issues along the way. Most panelists and speakers felt that a quarterly review was an achievable goal. More frequent reviews would be ideal, but could prove a challenge for companies with fewer resources. In addition, companies should engage the business early and often about what the data reveals and how that information can be leveraged to reduce risk and impact sales. Communication with physicians in advance of the CMS review and dispute period was recommended. This does not necessarily mean disclosing all the data, nor pre-disclosing to every physician about whom you have data. Setting a minimum TOV threshold for pre-disclosure, or pre-disclosing only to select KOLs were suggested as means of making the pre-disclosure beneficial to both the physician and the company.

Speaking of physicians, Day Two included a panel discussion moderated by PhRMA Executive Vice President and General Counsel, John Murphy, on the physician’s perspective of Open Payments. Panelists included Dr. Maya Babu of the Mayo Clinic and AMA Board of Trustees member, and Dr. David Barbe, former Chair and current member of the AMA Board of Trustees. The panelists said the main concerns of physicians are centered on the potential for bad data being presented to public, the ability for physicians to access the data, the implications of the data, and the impact the Open Payments program will have on relationships with the industry. While there have been improvements in the registration process, there are still issues with access, specifically, problems with particular browsers being able to access the site. The panelists felt strongly that being able to access the data through a site set up by the manufacturer would be helpful, or even having a sales rep provide the data personally.

The United States certainly hasn’t cornered the market on physician spend transparency. Global transparency was addressed on Day Two, predominately in a discussion group at the end of the day. On Day Three an entire morning track was dedicated to issues related to global transparency. The featured presentation (and highlight of the conference) was an address by Andrew Powrie-Smith, Director of Communication for the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA).

Mr. Powrie-Smith briefly covered the nuts and bolts of the EFPIA Disclosure Code before turning to a discussion of transparency in general. The industry believes transparency is about demonstrating that there is value in the collaboration between industry and healthcare professionals/organizations, which ultimately delivers better patient care. However, being transparent is not without its challenges. Primarily, with the exception of countries, such as France, where there are physician spend disclosure laws, managing transparency efforts in face of the EU privacy laws is challenging. The EFPIA Disclosure Code requires the disclosure of certain transfers of value at the individual practitioner level, and requires that disclosure to be made available to the public. In order to meet these requirements, companies must obtain consent from physicians to disclose private information about them. Further complicating the matter is that even if consent is given, it can be revoked at any time.

Mr. Powrie-Smith said EFPIA is currently conducting a survey regarding the industry stance on obtaining the necessary consents for disclosure of transfers of value at the individual level. Thus far, EFPIA has seen a large variance in the rate of consent across Europe. A culture shift is necessary to address the variance and the industry must take a leadership role in that shift.

The concept of gaining and managing consent was emphasized in other presentations as well. Representatives from BMI Systems shared data on the rates of consent presented by various pharmaceutical industry trade organizations at an EFPIA meeting in May. In Germany, the consent rate was 50-55%, and the industry trade organization in the country said that was about what they expected for the first year. Poland’s trade organization noted in March they were at a 20% consent rate, and Spain’s trade organization reports only a 10% consent rate. Representatives from IMS Health dug into issues with gaining consent as well. They discussed how codes and laws differed from country to country, specifically regarding the timelines for obtaining consent (e.g., at time of contract, or at any time during the reporting period); the scope of the consent (e.g., per activity type, per contract); from whom consent is required (e.g., HCPs or HCOs); and required consent documentation (paper or digital).

The 9th Annual Forum on Aggregate Spend and Transparency offered useful information for any attendee responsible for data collection, report submission, or analytics inside or outside the U.S. Beyond the nuts and bolts of aggregate spend, the presentations focused on the value of the data for the organization and the physician. Data provides insight for commercial teams and their programs, and the compliance risks for the company. Most importantly, as communicated by Andrew Powrie-Smith, transparency around spend data is important, because it reveals the benefits of the industry/HCP relationship to patients, payers and the public.


News in Review, August 11, 2015

Industry support of CME increases in 2014,  NuVasive settles False Claims charges while Mead Johnson deals with FCPA charges, and Amarin wins a preliminary injunction in its off-label case against the FDA.

The dog days of summer have certainly arrived in most of the U.S. with temperatures that are best described as hot, hot, hot! Thanks to Willis Carrier and his wonderful invention, we can at least find occasional respite from the sun’s rays and the humidity. So while you wait for a break in the heatwave, crank the A/C up a few notches, grab a cool beverage, and just chill with this edition of the Compliance News in Review.

According to a report from the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME), industry support of CME increased 2.4% in 2014. According to the report, industry support represented about a quarter of all CME revenue in 2014, whereas in 2007, that support was closer to half (46%) of CME revenue. Physician attendance at CME dropped by just over one percent, but non-physician attendance rose six percent.

The heat is off for NuVasive now that it has settled with the DOJ. The company has agreed to pay $13.5 million to settle charges it violated the False Claims Act by marketing a product for surgical uses for which it was not approved. According to the government, the company marketed its CoRoent System for several spinal surgical procedures for which it was not approved. The DOJ also claimed kickbacks, in the form of speaker fees honoraria, were paid to induce physicians to use the system. The company was also accused of paying kickbacks for physicians to attend events hosted by Society of Lateral Access Surgery (SOLAS), an organization that was entirely organized and funded by NuVasive.

Mead Johnson entered into a settlement with the SEC to resolve charges it bribed Chinese government healthcare workers to recommend its infant formula, in violation of the FCPA. According to the SEC, the company funded the payments through distributor allowance funds paid to a third-party distributor, and then directed the third-party on how those funds were to be used. Allegedly, the payments were not properly reflected in the company’s books and records.

Insys also finds itself in the doghouse; or in this case, we’ll say the duck house (okay, it’s a reach, but stay with us here). Insys Therapeutics has entered into a settlement with Oregon to resolve a deceptive marketing case. The State claims the company marketed an opioid painkiller for treating mild pain that was only approved for treating pain in cancer patients who are not responding to other types of painkillers. The State also claims the company paid physicians for writing prescriptions and used unqualified physicians to promote the product. The settlement will be split between the State and an organization dedicated to the prevention of opioid abuse, which will be selected by Oregon’s Attorney General.

So it appears, this off-label promotion dog can hunt. Amarin, the company suing the FDA over its ability to promote its fish-oil drug for off-label uses, has won a preliminary injunction against the agency. The injunction is not a final order, but for now, the FDA cannot prevent Amarin from the truthful off-label promotion of its product. The drug is approved for treating patients with very high levels of triglycerides. Amarin would like to promote the drug for use with patients that have moderately elevated triglycerides levels, despite being on a statin.

Like the Caronia decision before it, the Amarin case certainly raises interesting questions about the future of truthful off-label promotion. While a compliance training session may not be the place and time to delve into a discussion of that future, the decision does present an opportunity to discuss off-label promotion and how to address questions related to off-label use. Why not take this opportunity to launch refresher training, or distribute an updated, quick-reference communication piece? On-going reminders about what constitutes off-label promotion, and the policies your organization has in place to address unsolicited questions, are part of any effective compliance curriculum. The case also creates an opportunity to work with commercial team managers on a plan to increase the dialogue about the topic with their teams. Off-label is in the news and the training opportunities abound.

Compliance News in Review, August 3, 2015

There was a rare occurrence in the skies this weekend. Hopefully you weren’t  standing alone without a dream in your heart when it happened, but if so, there’s a wonderful song by The Marcels that can be your soundtrack. The end of July marks the appearance of the Blue Moon.  Despite having a color in its name, the moon will not actually appear blue.  There is some dispute within the scientific community as to what constitutes a blue moon, but the criteria applying to the upcoming event is the second full moon to occur during one month. If you happened to have miss it, you won’t have to wait too long for the next one; just two and a half years. While you reflect on this somewhat rare occurrence, let us supply you with some reading material – this week’s News in Review.

We’ll start out this week’s news with a story not about the moonlight, but the Sunshine. CMS is seeking public comments about whether to add Open Payments data to individual physician pages on the Physician Compare website. CMS says this data is “of great interest to consumers,” and that consumers have indicated having this data available on Physician Compare website would “increase their ability to find and evaluate the information.” Comments must be submitted by September 8.

There isn’t much moonlight this time of year in Iceland, which is appropriate considering the Sunshine the industry association in the country has decided to spread around. The Icelandic Association of the Pharmaceutical Industry, Frumtök, has decided to adopt the EFPIA Disclosure Code. Frumtök is not a part of EFPIA, but previously adopted the EFPIA HCP Code. The head of the association says adoption of the Disclosure Code is on track, and questions have been raised by healthcare professionals, but overall there is support from national hospitals and the Icelandic Medical Association.

A National Health Service (NHS) spokesperson is howling at the moon about payments to NHS staff. A recent investigative report in the British paper, The Telegraph, showed that NHS staff were receiving payments from drug companies in an effort to persuade health care professionals to use specific drugs. According to the report, staffers served as consultants who were paid up to $23,000 to set up advisory boards at lavish hotels, often in foreign countries. NHS staffers that attended an advisory board in Germany told The Telegraph they reported the trip and payments received for their attendance, and were not involved in the decision to move to the drugs discussed at the meeting. A spokesman for the NHS said the situation was quite serious and there would be investigations into each allegation in the news report. Citing the U.S. Sunshine Act, the spokesman suggested the U.K. may want to consider creating a disclosure law. A spokeswoman for the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry said the industry works well under self-regulation, and would prefer to provide greater transparency under the that paradigm rather than under a law.

Cephalon may be feeling a bit blue after a recent court decision in a False Claims Act case. In a recent False Claims Act case filed by three former employees, Cephalon had a motion to dismiss denied in District Court. Part of the plaintiffs’ case asserts that Cephalon is responsible for reverse false claims (where the claim results from payments not paid to the government rather than from a false payment being received from the government) because the alleged activity occurred while Cephalon was under a CIA. The plaintiffs say because Cephalon did not report off-label marketing of two of its products, it falsely certified reports submitted to the OIG while under a CIA.  These false reports were subject to penalty per the CIA, therefore Cephalon did not pay the government the money it was due. Cephalon said the reverse false claim should not apply because the stipulated penalties in the CIA are at the discretion of the OIG. The judge disagreed with Cephalon’s argument, and compared the CIA penalties to a breach of contract.

This week’s news was certainly full of more Sunshine than moonlight. And of course, by Sunshine, we mean physician spend disclosure. As evident in this week’s news, disclosure of physician spend is truly a global concern. We believe there are a couple of key training considerations for companies in the midst of adapting to not only the U.S.’s transparency requirements, but those in force in other countries. One such consideration is ensuring you’re capturing the entire audience. It can be easy to focus on the immediate audience.  Need to train on Loi Bertrand? Obviously colleagues based in France are the target; it is a French law after all.  However, what of colleagues with regional responsibilities, and those in a global role who may interact with physicians in France. Another consideration is knowledge sharing. In the U.S. we’ve been at this for a while. States have had disclosure requirements for more than two decades. Sharing with colleagues overseas the lessons learned from training timing, methodology, deployment, and so on can be helpful in successfully getting a transparency program off the ground elsewhere. And that sharing doesn’t have to be one-way. Colleagues overseas should share their successes with U.S.-based colleagues to see what can be improved upon in programs here.

Compliance News in Review, July 20, 2015

The House of Representatives passes the 21st Century Cures Act, two companies settle AMP charges, oral arguments begin in Amarin v. FDA, and CMS updates its Open Payments FAQs.

Diamonds are not only a girl’s best friend…a very special mouse is fond of them as well. The Happiest Place on Earth (or, at least the one in California), is celebrating its diamond anniversary. Happy 60th Disneyland! The place has certainly changed in its 60 years, but fan favorites such as Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride and the Jungle Cruise have stood the test of time. In true Disney fashion, the party isn’t just a one day affair; it actually started back in May and will likely continue through the fall, if not into 2017. Before we cut the cake with the big ears, we have a bit of “magic” of own to administer. Grab a churro and settle in for this edition of the Compliance News in Review.

The House is celebrating the overwhelming passage of the 21st Century Cures Act. The bill is designed to fund research and change the FDA’s drug and device approval process. It includes a change to the rule its provisions are changes to the Sunshine Act which would exclude the reporting of the value of journal reprints and payments for CME.

AstraZeneca and Cephalon may be feeling a bit Grumpy. The two companies reached separate agreements with the government over charges related to underpaid Medicaid rebates. According to a whistleblower, the companies improperly reduced the Average Manufacturers Price (AMP) of their products by subtracting fees paid to wholesalers. The companies paid $46.5 million and $7.5 million respectively to settle the matter.

Oral arguments began in Amarin’s suit against the FDA. The company cited the Caronia decision and the Sorrell v. IMS decision in its argument. Much of the discussion centered on the type of disclaimers need to accompany off-label promotion and not whether Amarin even has a right to do so. The FDA’s lawyer argued the interpretation of the Caronia decision should be very narrow but the judge disagreed. A judicial order is expected in a few weeks.

The whistleblower in a case against Endo may be throwing a Mad Tea Party now that she’s been awarded $33.6 million for her efforts. The case, which was settled with the government in February of last year, involved the off-label promotion of the company’s pain patch. Despite a recommendation from government lawyers that the whistleblower receive 19% of the settlement, the federal judge awarded her 24%, citing her “extraordinary effort” in the case. The whistleblower initially filed suit in 2005, and spent five of the nine years that followed working under the direction of the FBI.

CMS has sprinkled some Pixie Dust over the Open Payments FAQs, and sure enough new FAQs have taken flight. Several of the new FAQs have to do with physicians and teaching hospitals being able to access, review and dispute the data now that the review and dispute period has closed.

If the FAQ updates weren’t enough, CMS was back for a second ride with updated information about the reporting of CME payments on the Law and Policy page of the Open Payments website. Beginning in 2016, manufacturers will have to report indirect payments to CME providers if the manufacturers learn the identity of the physician attendees or speakers within the reporting year, or the first two quarters following the reporting year.

The updates to the Open Payments website remind us that the program is evolving. Your company’s training needs to evolve and grow as well. Affected personnel need to be updated on changes, and reminded of the need to communicate with their physicians. Now is the time to map out your plan for refresher training and refocus your aggregate spend and sales personnel.

That’s a wrap on the compliance news fit to blog for now. Have a great week everyone.



Compliance News in Review, July 10, 2015

The government targets Novartis for False Claims violations, pharmaceutical companies map out a plan to keep medication flowing into Greece throughout the crisis, and the industry as a whole ponders the impact of the CMS release of 2014 transparency data.

The days are long and lazy – it’s time for summer vacation! From the beach, to the mountains to foreign destinations, the News in Review staff is finalizing plans for summer R&R. Rest assured though, we are still hard at work keeping up with all the compliance news fit to blog, starting with this sun splashed edition of the Compliance News in Review.

The Justice Department and 11 states are putting a dent in the Novartis vacation account with a $3.4 billion charge for damages and fines in a False Claims Act case involving kickbacks to pharmacies. According to prosecutors, the company offered rebate and discount programs to pharmacies in exchange for increased prescriptions of two drugs. Novartis disputes the allegations and says it will continue to defend itself. A trial has been set for November.

Pharma companies are mapping out a plan to keep medication rolling into Greece. According to the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA), the complexity and fragmented nature of the Greek medicine supply chain makes the flow of medication vulnerable. Pfizer, Roche and Novartis said they have plans to ease any shortages during the crisis, and AstraZeneca and GSK have both said they are drawing up contingency plans to keep medicines in supply.

CMS and agg spend folks are probably ready for a break in their routine now that the 2014 Open Payments data has been published. The data shows that companies paid physicians almost $6.5 billion for the year, with over 11 million transactions reported. Research payments topped the list with over $3 billion paid, there were $2.5 billion in general payments and $700K was reported on the ownership reports. CMS was able to validate close to 99% of records submitted to the system, which is a vast improvement over the 2013 data. As was the case in 2014, the majority of the reported payments were small. Sixty-six percent were for payments of less than $20. Research and royalty payments represented the largest dollar amounts.

Once the Open Payments data was released, the numbers quickly found their way into the media. The focus on payments to physician and the influence those payments have on prescribing decisions and healthcare at large is at an all-time high. That level of scrutiny highlights the need for training on the Sunshine Act and Open Payments – especially for those interacting with HCPs. While much of the work related to the reporting requirements is a “back office” function, those interacting with HCPs are often the first to hear concerns from the field and they need to be prepared.

In addition, the public release of the data opens companies to examination of their business practices from whistleblowers and enforcement agencies. Critical evaluation of training is important. Are all the appropriate audiences being covered? Is the training up to date? Is a refresher required? Regular audits of training curriculums and plans are key to reducing the risk of questionable payments, and could spare the company expensive costs down the road.

Have a great weekend!

Compliance News in Review, July 2, 2015

A former medical device CEO is sentence to two years in prison, the House of Representatives moves on the exemption of payments for CME, textbooks and medical literature under Sunshine, a Connecticut APRN finds herself in hot water over kickbacks, and the first full year of physician payments data is officially available for review.

Unfurl the flag and fire up the grill! It’s time to celebrate the good ole U.S.A. Independence Day is almost here! Whether your celebration of the shot heard ‘round the world and 239 years of the great experiment take you to the shining sea, across the fruited plain, or just to your backyard, we hope it’s a safe and joyous weekend. Until the party begins, we’ll dole out a little history less of our own, with this edition of the Compliance News in Review.

Former OtisMed CEO will have his liberty temporarily revoked. The executive was sentenced to two years in prison for intentionally distributing an unapproved medical device in violation of the FDCA. He was also order to pay a $75,000 fine.

The “people’s house” has been busy recently. The House Energy and Commerce Committee announced that over 200 representatives have signed on to the 21st Century Cures Act. The exemption of payments for CME, textbooks and medical literature from the Sunshine Act is included in the bill. The House also approved a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act’s tax on medical device manufacturers. The bill now moves to the Senate for a vote.

A Connecticut APRN has admitted to accepting $83,000 in kickbacks from the drug maker Insys Therapeutic. The nurse was a top prescriber of the company’s cancer pain drug. Most of the kickbacks were in the form of payments for serving as a speaker and according to prosecutors, more often than not, the nurse and the sales rep were the only people in attendance at the speaker events. On some occasions, the attendees were friends or colleagues of the nurse who were allowed to prescribe drugs. She will be sentenced in September.

We’re waiting for the fireworks to start now that the first full year of physician payments data has been released by CMS. The payments for 2014 totaled nearly $6.5 billion, and represented 11.4 million transactions to over 600,000 physicians and teaching hospitals. Data from the 2013 program year that could not be posted during 2014 is also included in this year’s release. According to a CMS press release, “registered physicians and teaching hospitals reviewed nearly 30% of the total value of the data and the agency plans on continuing its efforts to work with HCPs to increase that review rate.”

While it’s the multi-million dollar corporate settlements that make the headlines, this week’s news shows that in the world of compliance, individuals suffer significant consequences as well. From the Board to the C-suite, across the corporation and even to the contractors, training needs to emphasize that potential violations are not just a “company problem.”

The release of the 2014 Open Payments data highlights the amount of money being spent by industry on physicians, and exposes physicians to potential criticism and scrutiny. HCPs need to be aware of the rules and regulations companies face because as far as the government is concerned, they represent the company just as the employees do. Providing training that respects these contractors as men and women of science, while fully covering product promotion regulations and law, not only protects the company, it enhances the relationship with these valued partners in healthcare as well.

Have a great Independence Day everyone!


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