News Week in Review, September 23, 2013

The PharmaCertify™ Team

The sun, the moon, and the stars have all given their approval for the change of season, so we can make the official call…it’s FALL! Cool, crisp days and changing leaves can’t be far behind. And if that isn’t enough to make you happy, the advent of fall means that “delightful” chore of cutting the lawn will be ending soon. Gee, what a shame. Whether your favorite fall activities include pumpkin carving, apple picking, or getting lost in corn mazes, there will be plenty of time for all of that later. Now it’s time to take a look at the news from the last week of summer, with this week’s News Week in Review.

The Massachusetts legislature is kicking off fall with a number of bills aimed at the relationship between physicians and industry companies. A joint senate and house committee will discuss the bills on October 1st. The bills under consideration include a ban on drug advertising; a ban, with a few exceptions, on gifts to healthcare professionals and their family members, which will also require annual reporting on the value of permitted gifts (um…isn’t there a law in place for this?); and one that will define what constitutes a modest meal at an educational/informational presentation. The last bill prohibits the provision of alcoholic beverages at the presentations, and prohibits educational or informational meetings from being held at “resorts, sporting clubs, casinos or other vacation destinations.”

While you’re watching those fall television premieres, watch out for those drug advertisements…they’re deceptive! Or so says a new study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine. According to the study, 8 of 10 ads for OTC drugs and 6 of 10 ads for prescription drugs contained exaggerated or misleading formation, left out vital information, or made meaningless lifestyle associations. The ads aired from 2008 to 2010 during the evening news timeslot (30 minutes) on the three major networks and CNN.

Two industry trade groups are looking for companies to turn over a new leaf when doing business in China. PhRMA and RDPAC (a trade group for foreign companies in China) prepared a joint memo to address industry corruption issues in China. The memo calls on companies to employ the highest ethical standards while conducting business in China, and to react swiftly if something occurs outside the parameters of a company’s code of conduct. The memo also calls on trade organizations to enhance their efforts to ensure physicians are better paid by the Chinese healthcare system, and to encourage the introduction of ethical standards for the entire healthcare sector.

The corruption scandals and investigations in China have put a chill on the relationship between physicians and the industry. Pharmaceutical sales representatives are making fewer visits to hospitals simply because physicians are refusing to see them, and because companies have been cutting back or eliminating the visits out of caution. Sales are also down in the country as a result of scandals and the lower sales have lead companies to cut back on their marketing and promotional activities. The CEO of Sanofi says there is “a lot of confusion out there” and he expects there to still be “turbulence” in the marketplace over the next few months.

Prosecutors in the U.K. have harvested new laws and guidelines to help them pursue Bribery Act cases. A law that will allow the use of Deferred Prosecution Agreements to settle Bribery Act cases should become effective in February. The use of DPAs is expected to reduce the number of lengthy investigations, and provide companies a way to avoid the stricter penalties. The U.K. Sentencing Council has also released draft sentencing guidelines for violations of the Bribery Act. The guidelines include a tiered rating for determining a violator’s level of guilt under the law (e.g., a violator was an instigator vs. being coerced or intimated in to violating the law). The guidelines also state that fines against a company must be significant enough to have a real financial impact.

Google’s leaf pile just keeps getting bigger! The company announced it’s going to step into the bio-pharmaceutical industry, and form a research company dedicated to “health and well-being, in particular the challenge of aging and associated diseases.” The company will be called Calico, and the CEO will be Arthur Levinson from Genentech.

Now that fall is here and the daylight hours are waning, this is a good time to shift back to Sunshine. With Sunshine Act data collection in full swing, PharmaCertify’s, The Sunshine Act: The Federal Physician Spend Disclosure Law, will help you ensure customer-facing colleagues are well-versed on what information needs to be collected and reported.

Have a great week everyone!

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