Week in Review, September 17

The PharmaCertify™ Team

It starts earlier every season, and before long, you’re sick and tired and just ready for all the hype to end. “Christmas sales?” you ask. No. (Although the fact there are trees up and decorated in stores before we’ve even brought out our fall clothes is disturbing.) We’re talking about campaign season. We’ve had enough of all the posturing, the non-answer answers, the ridiculous campaign and PAC ads that run more often than beer ads during a ball game. There should be some sort of rule, law or generally accepted practice that there is to be no campaigning by candidates, or thought provoking messages by PACs, more than six months prior to the first primary! Okay, we’ll step off the soapbox now and move on to news you can actually use: this week’s News Week in Review.

We’ll lead off the NWR with a politician attempting to hold the bureaucracy accountable. Senator Chuck Grassley issued a statement regarding the current status of the Sunshine Act during a roundtable session of the Senate Special Committee on Aging. After some brief background regarding the Act, Senator Grassley expressed his frustration with CMS’s continued delay in releasing the final rule for Sunshine, and their lack of communication regarding the reason for the delay. He even brought up the rumor that CMS has sent the final rule to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and the OMB is holding up releasing the rule until after the election. He called on CMS to confirm whether there is any truth to the rumor, and if there is to clear up why the rule is being held. Grassley closed his comments by defending the companies that will have to implement the law by saying companies need the final rule released to assure their systems would allow them to meet the “letter of the law.”

From the halls of the Capitol comes the shocking story that fighting over budget cuts by our elected officials now threatens to hold up the dollars paid in user fees by drug and device makers. In order for the FDA to access the money paid by the industry, it must first receive certain funding from Congress, and the budget stalemate in Congress is delaying that funding.

In news from the FDA, the Office of Prescription Drug Promotion (OPDP) issued an untitled letter to Eli Lilly questioning the use of color on an image of a brain that appeared  on a product website and on promotional materials. The OPDO said Lilly was misbranding the product, a radioactive agent used for PET Scans, because the color images suggest that scans can be displayed and reviewed in color. The prescribing information specifically calls for the use of black and white scale and gives several examples of how to read scans in black and white.

On the political history front, the DOJ has re-released the original FCPA document signed by President Carter and Speaker of the House, Tip O’Neal. A nice slice of history, but what isn’t history is the DOJ’s focus on investigating healthcare companies for potential violations of the law. The medical device industry has found itself squarely in that bull’s eye. An article in Compliance Week examines recent settlements and the risks that make the industry vulnerable to potential violations. The author says the top factor regulators take into consideration during investigations and settlements is a strong culture of compliance within an organization. Robust training is an important part of building a culture of compliance, and we can help with our Understanding and Preventing Bribery in the Global Life Sciences Marketplace module.

Hey, look who’s jumping on the Pinterest bandwagon; it’s pharma! A handful of companies are embracing this rapidly expanding social media platform. Bayer was the first to “pin it,” and now, they’ve been joined by Boehringer Ingelheim and GE Healthcare.

BI also upped the social media game for the industry with the beta launch of its Facebook game, Syrum. The game allows players to run their own pharmaceutical company and develop drugs for a variety of diseases. The company also has a YouTube channel, Twitter feed, and blog focused on the game. The game is in public beta in Europe, with a global launch expected in 2013. We can’t wait to see the FB requests for lab equipment appear in our news feed.

For an executive at a pharma or med device company, being excluded from federal healthcare programs is never a good career move. So the former CEO of InterMune is fighting his five-year exclusion handed down last year. The CEO claims that since his wire fraud conviction had nothing to do with delivering a health care item or service, the OIG had no basis for exclusion. He claims the OIG based the exclusion an unproven allegation of misbranding, for which he was acquitted. The OIG says the CEO is misinterpreting the law, and that a direct correlation between the conviction and the provision of a health care item or service is not required.

That certainly was a big week for political mudslinging, but we’ve hosed off and we’re hoping to evade the muck this week. Oh well, that’s what they make volume buttons for, right? On the bright side, we are one week closer to the election, so it will all be over soon. We can take some comfort in the fact that this sort of craziness has been around since well, since a political system existed in this country. If you think political races of modern times are harsh, take a look at some old school mudslinging.

Have a great week everyone!

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