Compliance News in Review, October 14, 2016

Ghouls, goblins and ghosts galore…the haunting season is here! Enjoy it while you can, before you know it, reindeer, snowmen, and gingerbread men will be scattered across the landscapes. (Poor Thanksgiving…it gets no respect!) No tricks from us though, just treats. And by treats we mean delicious bites of news! So before you head out to wait for the Great Pumpkin, join us for this not-so-scary edition of the Compliance News in Review.

The FDA has carved out time for a public hearing on November 9th and 10th to discuss the subject of communicating off-label uses of drugs and devices. The agency hopes to hear from a variety of stakeholders, including industry representatives, healthcare professionals, patients, and research institutions. Approximately 30 topics will be discussed, ranging from the effect that increased communications will have on patient enrollment in clinical trials to how patients should be made aware that they are receiving information about an off-label use.

GSK is feeling a bit of a chill in the air. The company reached an agreement with the SEC to pay $20 million to resolve FCPA-related charges its Chinese subsidiary paid bribes to increase sales. As part of the settlement, GSK is also required to provide the SEC with reports regarding its implementation of anticorruption measures for the next two years.

Dermatologists are receiving lots of treats from the industry. A study of 2014 Open Payments data reveals that nearly three-quarters of the country’s dermatologists received payments in 2014. Most were under $50.00, but a few of the doctors received payments totaling more than $90,000.00. The study appears in JAMA Dermatology.

These are frightful times at Mylan as the company agrees to pay $465 million to settle claims it overcharged Medicaid for EpiPen. The company has come under intense fire for its pricing practices related to the product. In agreeing to the settlement, Mylan did not admit to wrongdoing.

The news of the FDA’s public hearing on communication related to the unapproved uses of drugs and devices is encouraging. Hopefully, after the forum, the agency will move quickly on the release of new guidance. As court decisions are discussed in the media and more public hearings are announced, now is a great time to reinforce appropriate promotional communication through the release of updated training.

With that, we close our autumnal edition of the Compliance News in Review. One final note – if you’re attending the Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Compliance Congress next week, stop by Booth 404 in the exhibit hall and say “boo!”

Thanks for reading and stay compliant!

The Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Compliance Congress: A Preview

The Seventeenth Annual Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Compliance Congress gets underway in just a few short weeks. The annual gathering provides an opportunity for industry professionals and experts to learn from one another and hear from representatives of enforcement agencies. Whether your focus is international compliance, U.S. compliance, transparency, or risk assessment, the conference has something for everyone. We’ve reviewed the agenda and compiled a list of what we see as some the most compelling presentations.

Several sessions focus on compliance issues in managed markets. The preconference Managed Markets 101 review covers private payer systems, market access programs, and government payer systems. The session should provide helpful content and practical examples for those needing to train managed market personnel and salespeople.

If you’re not able to attend the preconference, there are also two managed markets mini summits on Day 2. The morning session covers compliance issues affecting managed markets in general and the afternoon one is focused on audit and monitoring issues. We expect both to spark worthwhile discussions among panel and audience members.

The Pharmaceutical Compliance Forum planners always do a great job of scheduling a variety of sessions dealing with compliance issues in markets outside of the U.S. This year is no exception, with preconference, plenary, and breakout sessions addressing global issues. Since the first transparency reports were filed by EFPIA members over the summer, unpacking what has been learned from the data, and discussing the challenges faced by companies thus far, will be of interest to anyone involved in global transparency.

We are also interested in the keynote address on Day 1 by Sophie Peresson, LLM, MA, Director of Pharmaceuticals & Healthcare Programme for Transparency International. (FYI – the printed brochure has this listed as the keynote for Day 2, but the website has it scheduled as the second keynote on Day 1.) The organization, well-known for its work addressing corruption, recently focused its attention on the pharmaceutical industry, so Ms. Peresson’s presentation should be valuable for companies mapping their future transparency training plans.

Finally the day two mini-summit titled, “Reimbursement Support, Patient Assistance Programs, Coupons, and Charitable Foundations” is another one on our radar. Enforcement agencies have sharpened their focus on these programs, and the area could be the next target for investigators. The panel includes both industry and legal professionals.

Now, we’re interested in your opinion. If you’re attending the conference, stop by the PharmaCertify™ booth in the exhibit hall between sessions and let us know what you think of the sessions and speakers. While you’re there, don’t forget to enter our drawing for a Bose® Soundlink® Bluetooth® speaker.

See you in Washington and stay compliant!

Discount Registration: Pharmaceutical and Medical Compliance Congress

The 17th Annual Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Compliance Congress is scheduled for October 19-21 and the PharmaCertify team is looking forward to catching up with colleagues and sharing demos of our newest compliance training solutions. As a conference sponsor, we have the opportunity to offer you a $600 discount on the full conference registration cost. If you’re interested in taking advantage of this opportunity to hear industry professionals and government regulators discuss the latest guidance and share best practices, contact Dan O’Connor at

If you can’t make it this time, don’t worry, we’ll be posting updates on the PharmaCertify Twitter feed, and a conference review on the our blog soon after the conference closes.

Thanks for reading and stay compliant!


Compliance News in Review, September 15, 2016

Illinois tackles illegal drug promotion by Insys; the ABPI calls out two member companies for breaking promotion rules; the Australian legislature shines a light on corporate crime and Medicines Australia reports on payments to doctors; and AstraZeneca settles with the SEC…all in this edition of the Compliance News in Review.

You had to know it wasn’t far away when “pumpkin spice everything” started appearing on store shelves. After the long hot summer, the staff here at the Compliance News in Review couldn’t be more excited that football is back, and cooler days with it (hopefully). Whether you’re a fan of college, or the league where they play for pay, the season is short, but that’s what makes it so special. Yes. football is now our focus, but not so much that we won’t continue to provide you with all the life sciences compliance news fit to blog. So, strike up the band, we’re ready to take the field on this edition of the Compliance News in Review.

The Illinois Attorney General is lining up against Insys. The state has filed suit against the company for illegal marketing of its fentanyl drug. The drug is approved for treating pain in cancer patients, but the AG alleges the company has been marketing the drug for treatment of other types of pain. The company also encouraged doctors to write prescriptions for higher, more expensive doses of its product, despite FDA recommendations to use the lowest dose of opioids possible, according to the suit.

The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) threw a flag on Hospira and Napp Pharmaceuticals. The organization has accused the companies of breaking the rules regarding promotion of biosimilars. An investigation found that Napp Pharmaceuticals made inappropriate payments to physicians attending a meeting that was deemed an advisory board. Hospira allegedly invited U.K. doctors to attend a meeting outside the U.K., which was a not a genuine advisory board, where their drug was promoted.

The Australian legislature will huddle about the state of its anticorruption law. After two Australian companies were implicated in a case involving the bribery of foreign officials, a member of the Australian senate decided to relaunch a committee to address corporate corruption. The mission of the committee is to improve Australia’s response to corporate crime and the senator noted that compared to bribery laws in the U.S. and U.K., Australia’s law is inadequate.

The “score” regarding industry payments to physicians in Australia has been posted for public review. Between October 2015 and April 2016 doctors received $8.5 million from industry according to a report from Medicines Australia. The organization says this report provides patients with more information than ever before about the relationship between doctors and the industry, and that the organization’s “standards for ethical and transparency will improve the Australian health care system.”

Thanks to an “ineligible receiver” call from the officials at the SEC, AstraZeneca has agreed to pay $5.5 million to resolve FCPA related charges. The SEC alleged that the company did not have proper internal controls in place related to interactions with foreign officials – mostly healthcare providers – in its China and Russian subsidiaries. The agency contends that improper payments, in the form of cash, travel, and gifts, were documented as bona fide business expenses. While AstraZeneca did not admit or deny any wrongdoing, it did cooperate fully with the investigation.

This week’s review had a decidedly foreign flavor. Where compliance outside the U.S. is concerned, we recall a quote from Pulp Fiction (bet you never thought a Tarantino film would ever be referenced in blog post about compliance) when Vincent Vega is discussing the differences between European countries and the U.S. “They have everything there we have here. It’s just a little bit different.” The same can be said for compliance issues. While the principles or requirements related to drug promotion may be the same here and abroad for the most part, there are small differences between what is permitted in the U.S. and what is permitted around the world. Life sciences companies must train employees about practices that are appropriate when conducting business outside the U.S., particularly in their interactions with non-U.S. HCPs.

With that, the time has expired on this edition of the Compliance News in Review. Don’t forget to click that blue button on the right to “follow” our blog so you’ll receive notifications when we post new content.

Until next time, stay compliant and enjoy the games!

Making the Most of Face-to-Face Time with Learners

by Lauren Barnett

Time in front of learners is a valuable commodity. Everyone throughout your organization is busy with his or her designated responsibilities, and the demands on a learner’s time makes scheduling training time challenging. If the learners are field-based,  the opportunities for face-to-face time are limited and everyone is scrambling for their share. So compliance trainers need to make the most of live training time in order for learners to walk away with an understanding of how the policies, rules and regulations affect their jobs day-in and day-out.

Effective and targeted compliance eLearning is one solution. Deploying eLearning before the live session gives trainers the ability to focus their live training time on the application of policies, and any changes in the working environment that might affect the exact interpretation of the rules.  It also allows the trainers more time to delve into learners’ questions about how to handle the situations they face.

Don’t Forget the WIIFM

When learners come to a live session with a baseline knowledge, trainers can utilize role-playing scenarios or interactive games to make the foundational knowledge presented in the eLearning more meaningful. This approach sharpens the WIIFM (What’s in It for Me) in the learner’s mind. When learners understand how the laws and regulations actually affect their daily activities, the information “sticks” even more and the potential for behavior change is stronger.

The Landscape Might Change 

While laws, regulations and policies may not change often, the environment in which learners operate is fluid. Using eLearning courses for foundational training, before the live session, allows trainers to spend that face-to-face time discussing any changes in the company business or the industry. For example, over time, an off-label use of a product may emerge, or a company may enter into a foreign market, creating new risks and/or laws that have to be addressed through training. By deploying eLearning to cover any new laws or policy basics, trainers can use their live time to discuss the more specific details of how those changes are played out in the field.

Leave Time for the Gray Areas

Inevitably, the application of compliance policies and regulations is sometimes left open to interpretation. The nature of those policies can leave those in the field mired in confusion and lost as to how to apply related policies. When you train the foundational knowledge through eLearning, face-to-face training time can be used as an opportunity to answer those questions and educate the learners about how to conduct themselves in a compliant manner. That type of feedback and dialogue represents a major step toward reducing risk and strengthening your compliance culture, as staff learn how to apply the principles, even when there isn’t a ready-made answer in the policy.

Make it Stick

Face-to-face time with learners is a valuable and precious commodity, and as a trainer, you need to seek methods for making that time as rewarding as possible. Deploying a baseline of eLearning courses, such as those found in the PharmaCertify Compliance Foundations™ curriculum, frees the trainer to spend that time detailing how the laws, regulations, and policies affect the learners’ daily activities. When learners understand compliance is not a set of draconian rules, but rather integral facets of what they do daily, the information is more likely to stick with learners and drive more ethical and compliant behavior.

Lauren Barnett is a Compliance Training Content Specialist for the PharmaCertify division of NXLevel Solutions. When she is not identifying subjects for the company’s Compliance Foundations suite of off-the-shelf eLearning modules, or working with clients to create custom training content, she can be found gleefully volunteering for her daughter’s high school band and theater programs.

Compliance News in Review, August 25, 2016

Here’s the tune we’re whistling this week: a California state senator pulls his own proposed transparency bill; an analysis of the FDA user fee programs yields interesting information; former Insys employees in court; FCPA woes at Orthofix International; and a new way for New Jersey residents to learn how much their docs received from the industry.

Summer is coming to a close all too quickly, but you still have a few weeks to cruise the boulevard, roll down the windows and belt out that favorite song at the top of your lungs. Sadly, these anthems tend to disappear at the first hint of cool temperatures, so dance on whilst you can! While you pump up the volume on your music delivery apparatus of choice, we’ll fire up a jam of own, with this edition of the Compliance News in Review.

It’s been a Cruel Summer for a California state legislator. The state senator who proposed a drug pricing transparency bill for the state has pulled the bill from consideration, saying amendments to the bill “made it more difficult for us to accomplish our fundamental goal.”

Could a recent analysis of FDA user fees stir up some Bad Blood? The analysis of FDA user fees showed that the FDA has collected over seven billion dollars in fees since 1992. These fees account for a large percentage, in some cases the majority, of funding for FDA review programs, and there is nearly $300 million dollars in unused user fees being carried by the FDA.

An interactive map shows the Blurred Lines between New Jersey physicians and the pharmaceutical industry. A state news website created an interactive map that provides details of physician and hospital payments from the pharmaceutical industry. Users search by zip code, and see payment details for hospitals and physicians in the area. The site also has an alphabetical listing of physicians and hospitals receiving payments. Data for the site was sourced from the Open Payments website.

Orthofix International allegedly got in the Danger Zone regarding improper payments made by its Brazilian subsidiary. In a recent regulatory filing, Orthofix International registered a charge of $4.6 million to settle potential FCPA charges. The company reported the potential violation to the DOJ and SEC in 2013, and has been cooperating with both agencies to resolve the matter.

If Life is a Highway, a pair of former Insys employees may be about to head down a bumpy road. A former district sales manager and former sales representative recently pleaded not guilty to charges they provided kickbacks to doctors in exchange for prescribing the company’s fentanyl drug. The two are accused of paying speaker fees to doctors for events that were held at upscale Manhattan restaurants and were social, rather than educational, in nature.

With that, it’s time for us to boogie on out of here. We hope to see you back on the dance floor for the next edition of the Compliance News in Review. Until then, stay cool, keep the summertime jams going, and stay compliant.

Compliance News in Review, August 19, 2016

The Pfizer shareholder suit settlement, Open Payments Open Forum, Robert Callif addresses sharing truthful off-label information, a whistleblower suit, and it’s always Sunshiney in Germany in this edition of the Compliance News in Review.

Dum, dum, da, dum, dum, dum, dum. Dum dum da dum dum dum dum da dum dum dum dum. No doubt you recognized that familiar melody as “Bugler’s Dream” (a.k.a., the Olympic theme). The games in Rio are in full effect! If you’re like us, you’re suffering from sleep deprivation from all the hours of late night coverage. Fear not, we haven’t completely forgone compliance news in favor of sport. Take your mark, because we’re about to start this edition of the Compliance News in Review.

Pfizer is setting aside $486 million in “gold medals” to resolve the shareholder suit over concealing the safety risks of Bextra and Celebrex. The settlement is pending approval of the shareholders, and if approved, will end 11 years of litigation.

Open Payments is back on the track and poised for changes. In July, CMS posed several questions in the proposed 2017 Physician Fee schedule. The agency held an Open Door Forum for Open Payment stakeholders to provide responses to these questions. Much of the discussion focused on the reporting and reviewing of information related to teaching hospitals and whether to increase the number of payment categories. Other topics included pre-vetting data; the review and dispute process; and whether user accounts for physicians can be structured so they don’t expire after six months of inactivity.

A whistleblower claims Celgene isn’t playing the game fairly. A suit filed by a former company sales rep claims the company made donations in order to drive product sales. The suit claims the company made donations and then worked with the charities to assure that the majority of the funds were directed to patients who were using Celgene drugs. Celgene says the claims are baseless and the federal rules regarding donations were followed.

FDA chief Robert Califf spent time hurdling the issue of sharing of truthful off-label information at the recent BIO conference. In his remarks, Mr. Califf said scientifically supported information worth sharing should be on the product’s label, and that there is a responsibility to share use information gleaned through the clinical trial process and it’s reasonable to expect that information to be part of the product’s label. He noted that publicly available information that is not part of the label is trickier, and that the agency was “working on it.”

The score from the German judge is…575 million. According to the German news magazine Spiegel, payments made to German HCPs and HCOs totaled 575 million euro in 2015. The country made the data public in a searchable database following a suggestion by EFPIA. The magazine noted problems with the data being incomplete and inaccurate, and only 75% of pharmaceutical companies were represented. It called for the German government to consider legislation similar to the Sunshine Act in order to implement true transparency.

Well, we need to get back to the thousands of hours of streaming coverage – bring on the table tennis – so we’ll end this edition of the Compliance News in Review here. Enjoy the rest of the Games everyone, and stay compliant.

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