Week in Review, October 21, 2013

A U.S Senator calls for an investigation into the relationship between pharmaceutical companies and the FDA, the definition of “foreign official” under the FCPA is debated in Florida, the Baycol False Claims Act case moves forward and 25 manufacturers settle with Vermont over charges of failing to file required reports.

The World Series gets underway this Wednesday with the Cardinals returning after a one year hiatus to face a scraggly, scrappy Red Sox squad. With the team from Boston representing the American League, no doubt the boys from St. Louis have gained a new legion of fans in New York. So, do you have a side in the battle, or will you just be glad when it’s over, and you can get back to The New Girl and Sleepy Hollow? Whether you’re looking forward to the first pitch or the last, we’re here to help fill the time with the current version of the News in Review.

U.S. Senator, Joe Manchin, has put a call into a different type of commissioner to investigate an alleged pay-for-play scheme between the FDA and pharmaceutical companies. In the letter to FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg, Senator Manchin expresses concern about reports of pharmaceutical companies paying thousands of dollars to attend FDA advisory meetings about the safety of pain medication. He would like to see a full senate investigation into the allegations to shed light on whether the relationship between pharma companies and the FDA caused any delay in the rescheduling of addictive pain killers.

A meeting on the mound is needed to settle an FCPA case in Florida. The case is now in the hands of three judges, and at the crux of the discussion is everyone’s favorite topic – the definition of a foreign official. More specifically, the case focuses on the definition of an “instrumentality.” Two telecom executives are accused of bribing the government-owned Haiti Teleco and defense lawyers have argued that an instrumentality has to be a direct part of the government under the FCPA, which is not the case with Haiti Teleco.

Internal controls charges are on the rise in FCPA cases, leading the Cadwalader law firm to wonder if the DOJ and SEC are poised to begin charging independent directors for failing to assure or maintain proper controls. Several companies have faced such charges recently, and as was demonstrated in the Orthofix case, companies can be charged with a violation for not having financial controls or an adequate compliance program in place. The FCPA guidance states that compliance begins with board members and senior executives, so the idea of independent directors being charged for the lack of proper controls isn’t far-fetched.

Upon further review, a whistleblower case against Bayer will move forward, but only on the grounds that the Department of Defense was defrauded, not federal healthcare programs. The False Claims Act case, which alleges that Bayer was deceptive in its marketing of Baycol, was dismissed last year because the court said the whistleblower failed to meet the specificity threshold related to false claims. The appeals court reversed the lower court’s decision.

Boston Scientific and its Guidant division have agreed to pay $30 million to settle charges of knowingly selling defective heart devices to facilities that treat Medicare patients. The government alleged that despite being aware of the problem, Guidant continued to sell defective stock and sent misleading communications to doctors in attempt to hide the true nature of the defect. The government also alleged that Guidant attempted to hide the defect from the FDA.

Vermont racked up 25 strikes against manufacturers under its Prescribed Products Gift Ban and Reporting law. The state’s Attorney General recently announced settlements with 25 manufacturers for alleged violations of the law. Most of the companies involved were small manufacturers and most of the charges levied were for failure to file the required reports. One manufacturer faced six charges of violating the gift ban.

We close with a reminder that the PharmaCertify team will be on-site at the Fourteenth Annual Pharmaceutical Regulatory and Compliance Congress next week. So if you’re attending, don’t forget to stop by the booth, say hi, and ask about our suite of compliance training modules and apps.

Have a great week everyone.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s