Week in Review, June 24, 2013

The PharmaCertify™ Team

According to the meteorologists and the astronomers, summer has begun! Time to hang ten and catch a wave! We know…on a Monday, the weekend beach time seems a little far off, but at least we can dream, as we enjoy an iced coffee or other beverage of choice. Before you drift off to the shores of daydream land though, check out what the tide brought in…this week’s News Week in Review.

According to one congressional report, it’s not just sand dollars the FDA is holding onto recently. The US House Committee on Appropriations criticized the agency for carrying one billion dollars of unobligated user fees halfway through the fiscal year. Congress expected some carryover in user fees, but the one billion dollar figure was quite the surprise. Going forward, the FDA Commissioner will submit a report about the fees to the Appropriations Committees and what programs those fees will support.

A new report finds that objections from regulatory departments are not the reason pharma companies are slow to catch the social medial wave. When asked about the social media mindset at the end of 2012, twelve pharmaceutical executives said the biggest obstacles were teamwork issues. The executives pointed to a lack of internal expertise in social media and an unwillingness to participate by various groups within the organization. An inability to measure the return on investment was also cited.

Efforts at passing legislation similar to the Sunshine Act have wiped out in Australia. The Australian Senate Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee rejected a bill that would have required disclosure of physician payments by pharmaceutical manufacturers. Instead, the committee agreed with industry and medical professional stakeholders in stating that self-regulation was a better way to handle the disclosures. Some believe that the bill failed because Medicines Australia is currently working on payment transparency requirements, which has limited the scope of the bill.

In the world of generics, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that companies can be sued over pay for delay deals that slow the entry of generic drugs into the market. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the delays cost consumers $3.5 billion a year. The decision opens drug companies to a wave of suits by wholesalers, insurers and antitrust enforcement agencies.

CMS want physicians to know the agency is dedicated to making sure they don’t get burned by Sunshine. A spokesperson from CMS told a gathering of the American Medical Association’s House of Delegates that data accuracy is the agency’s top priority.  The spokesperson said doctors can challenge the information if they feel it is inaccurate, and she encouraged them to take an active role in the process. CMS is developing tools, like a smart phone app that syncs with manufacturer reporting activity, for physicians to monitor the process and dispute results. The outgoing AMA president said the Association has started a Sunshine resource page to educate physicians about the requirements of the laws and will be holding webinars and hosting online modules for additional assistance.

It’s not all sunny skies concerning data accuracy at CMS. According to a report from the OIG, the database housing the physician information required for the Sunshine reports is largely inaccurate. Apparently, the National Plan and Provider Enumeration System (NPPES), which houses National Provider Identifiers (NPIs), contains inaccurate information in at least one field, 48% of the time. The OIG made several recommendations to correct the problem, including the implementation of program integrity safeguards in the Program Integrity Manual.

Well. that’s it for “start of summer 2013” edition of the News in Review. If the Sunshine Act is hot on your list of training topics for 2013, PharmaCertify has added The Sunshine Act: The Federal Spend Disclosure Law to its curriculum of customizable off-the-shelf compliance training modules. Contact Sean Murphy smurphy@nxlevelsolutions.com to learn more or receive a content outline.

Have a great week everyone!

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