Week in Review, June 1, 2012

Week in Review, June 1, 2012

Daaa-da-da-da-daa-daa. Ah, Pomp and Circumstance, (you got that musical reference from da-da’s right?) the perennial anthem of graduation ceremonies everywhere. It’s that time of year, when young ones (and not so young ones) don cap and gown, cross a stage to receive a blank piece of paper that commemorates years of hard work and dedication in pursuit of knowledge and education…always tear jerking for parents and family and liberating for the graduate. We celebrate these graduates’ achievements as they head off in to a brave new world. Whether that world is the work force or the first grade, we congratulate you all. In honor of graduates everywhere, we begin our own little “commencement” address – this week’s News Week in Review.

Brazil seems to be preparing to matriculate into the group of nations passing laws prohibiting the bribery of foreign officials. The Brazilian Congress is considering a law that would prohibit foreign bribery, however, the business community is pushing back against the law. A recent vote on the draft bill was delayed in order for the congress, business community and other stakeholders to work through some of their differences. There are three major areas of contention in the law: successor liability, the level of sanctions, and corporate strict liability.

In other foreign bribery news, we finally say goodbye to our old friend, the Lindsey Manufacturing FCPA case. The government has decided to drop its appeal of a judge’s decision to throw out the conviction of the company and two of its executives. After winning the first ever case against a company for violating the FCPA, the government saw that victory pulled away late last year when a judge tossed the convictions, citing government misconduct. Had the appeal moved forward, opening briefs from the government were due to be submitted June 1.

The state of Massachusetts is on its way to crossing the stage of allowing usage of drug coupons. Budget amendments in the state’s legislature would make the use of  co-pay and discount coupons legal. There are differences between House and Senate amendments that are to be worked out by a six member committee. Two issues to be resolved are the expiration of the coupons, and fines over raising the price of a drug.

The House Ways and Means Committee graduated a repeal of med device tax to the next grade. The republican controlled committee passed the Protect Medical Innovation Act, which would repeal the medical device tax that is due to go into effect next year. The committee has sent the Act to be voted on by the whole House next week. Some democrats on the committee are concerned the bill does not address how the loss in revenue from the repeal will be offset.

Senator Chuck Grassley is questioning the awarding of a “scholarship” by the National Institutes of Health to a doctor who had been previously banned from receiving funds from the NIH. The NIH awarded a $400,000 research grant to a psychiatrist who was previously banned from receiving funds from the institute. The ban came as a result of the physician’s failure to disclose $1.2 million in payments from a pharmaceutical company while he led a multi-million dollar federal study involving that company’s drug. A director at the NIH said the ban against the doctor had expired, and even if it hadn’t, the ban would not apply since he was working for a different university. The doctor in question is still under investigation by the OIG and DOJ, and Grassley questions whether the NIH had taken this into consideration in making its decision to award the grant. Grassley said the NIH risked sending the wrong message to physicians seeking federal grants.

As the industry prepares to take its first steps in the new world of disclosure, a study in the Archives of Internal Medicine finds that the disclosure of payments to physicians has little to no effect on prescribing habits. (insert shocked gasp here). The study focused on two types of drugs: statins and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Using publically available data, researchers compared prescribing habits in states with disclosure laws to those that did not have such laws. The findings showed the laws had little to no effect on increasing the use of generics or reducing the cost of medication. One study author said that transparency was important in its own right, but if the aim of law makers is to reduce costly prescribing, more direct action may be needed.

Well, it’s about time to throw that mortar board and tassel in the air and head out to weekend of our future. (wow, that was hokey) If you’ll be spending part of your weekend packing for a trip to the Big Easy for the SPBT conference, you won’t be alone. We will too! Come on by booth 235 and say hello. And be sure to catch our presentation on creating a values-based compliance program on Wednesday!

In case you haven’t had your fill of graduation-themed fun just yet, here’s one last read. Have a great weekend everyone!

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