The PharmaCertify™ Team

“Over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house we go!” Okay, let’s face it, sometimes, it’s more like, “On the highway breathing fumes and watching the tail lights glow.” Ugh, the Thanksgiving commute – horrible whether you’re trying to get to grandma’s or just home from work. The joy at the end of that commute though is a long weekend having fun with family and friends – and eating until you just can’t move. As you bide your time this weekend, take a gander at this week’s PC News Week (short as it may be) in Review.

Senators Baucus and Grassley are not talking turkey. Concerned about possible violations of the Anti-kickback Statute, the senators sent letters to Quest Diagnostics, Lab Corp of America, Aetna, Cigna and United Health. The concern is centered on the practice of insurers steering lab tests to certain labs in exchange for pull-through discounts or payments. The senators have asked for copies of contracts with high volume providers. The inquiry was prompted by recent cases in New York and California.

Pfizer may need to lower its Black Friday shopping budget a bit. The Wall Street Journal reports sources familiar with the company’s FCPA settlement negotiations say the settlement will exceed $60 million. The company expects a public announcement regarding the settlement to be made by the end of the year.

The first person charged with violating the UK Bribery Act was sentenced to six years in prison. In October the court clerk pled guilty to one count of violating the UK Bribery Act and one count of misconduct in public office. The violation of the Bribery Act carried a three year sentence which will be served concurrently with a 6 year sentence for the misconduct charge.

While receiving a prison sentence doesn’t seem like something for which to be thankful, it could be worse if you consider a former pharmaceutical executive was sentenced to death in China just a couple weeks ago. Three of the four former Synthes executives were handed prison sentences by a federal judge earlier this week. The case against the executives was brought under the responsible corporate officer doctrine in the wake of an illegal clinical trial of a bone cement. Each pled guilty to a misdemeanor and agreed to pay a fine. Federal sentencing guidelines recommend up to a six month prison sentence, but the judge handed two of the executives a nine month sentence and one a five month sentence. The lawyer for the fourth executive collapsed during the proceedings, delaying his client’s sentencing. The lawyer was released from the hospital and back at work the next day, but sentencing has yet to be rescheduled.

Those who are worried that the payments doctors are “gobbling” up are influencing their prescribing decisions may want to take a listen to this doctor from Montana. He feels no obligation to use the medications of the company for which he speaks, and even if he wanted to use a company’s products, insurers dictate which medicines he can prescribe.

Some states attempting to pass their own version of the federal False Claims Act are routinely finding their efforts sent to the kids’ table. Repeated attempts in several states have been met with objections that such laws are not cost-effective since they require significant resources to investigate, and part of the recoveries need to be turned over to whistleblowers.

Whew! Don’t know about you, but we could use a rest now. For a short week, we certainly still got our fill of news. We hope you all have a safe holiday weekend at grandma’s house or wherever your holiday plans take you, and that your long weekend is filled with the four “F’s”: food, family, friends and fun! Happy Thanksgiving everyone!