Week in Review, January 14, 2014

The University of Minnesota adds a medical device degree to its curriculum, Microsoft requires its partners to take anti-corruption training, Aegerion receives a subpoena from the Department of Justice and CMS clarifies its stance on textbooks and journal reprints under Sunshine.

If you weren’t watching television Sunday, you missed a night of glittering stars, flowing wine and cutting one-liners. Even with Meryl Streep pronouncing awards season as ridiculous, millions tuned into the Golden Globes to see if their favorite movie, TV show, or actor took home the trophy. Okay…let’s face it, some of us watch just to marvel at the ridiculousness of the fashion choices, which is often far more interesting than the acceptance speeches (with the exception this year of Jacqueline Bisset’s confused rambling – what was that!?). We have winners and losers of our own (of the compliance kind) to cover in this week’s News Week in Review.

The University of Minnesota plans to award individuals a medical device master’s degree in the near future. The University is currently recruiting students for a master’s level program in medical device innovation. The program will be part of the school’s College of Science and Engineering and the first class is expected to be enrolled this June.

The question at Microsoft isn’t “who are you wearing?” it’s “who has taken anti-corruption training?” The company launched a global initiative requiring all its partners to provide anti-corruption training to “all employees who resell, distribute, or market Microsoft products or services.” Media reports claim the DOJ and SEC are investigating allegations of bribery involving Microsoft partners in several countries.

In a settlement that almost rivals the value of the jewels on the stars walking the red carpet Sunday night, Alcoa has agreed to pay $348 million to settle charges it violated the FCPA. The settlement is a joint effort between the SEC and DOJ. SEC officials said Alcoa subsidiaries repeatedly bribed officials in Bahrain and Alba in order to obtain government contracts. The company agreed to plead guilty to one count of violating the FCPA.

Here’s one envelope you don’t want to see your name on: a DOJ subpoena. Aegerion confirms it has received a subpoena from the DOJ for information related to the sale and marketing of its cholesterol drug, Juxtapid. The company’s CEO recently received a warning letter for misleading statements he made about the drug during a television interview. Aegerion says it is fully cooperating with the investigation.

As far as two clinical research professionals are concerned, the Sunshine Act should be nominated for the “Law Having the Most Negative Impact on Clinical Research” award. Gary A. Shangold, M.D., chairman of the Association of Clinical Research Professionals Board of Trustees, and Michael J. Koren, M.D., former president of the Academy of Physicians in Clinical Research, authored an article outlining how the Sunshine Act will negatively impact clinical research and medical innovation. They are concerned that the reports on payments related to research are not reflective of what the physicians are actually paid; the cost of complying with the law will divert money from research; and overall quality of care will ultimately be affected by the diminished investment in research. The two also call on lawmakers to change the legislation in order to provide a more accurate picture of the financial transactions between research physicians and the industry.

CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner recently responded to an inquiry from Congress about textbooks and journal reprints not being considered educational items under the Sunshine Act. Educational items are described as those that are intended for patient use or have a direct benefit for the patient and are therefore excluded from reporting. In her letter, Ms. Tavenner said textbooks or journal reprints do not have a direct benefit for patients the way an anatomical model does. Rather, the textbooks and reprints provide a “downstream benefit” for patients so CMS believes the items should be reported as gifts or education.

With that, the band is signaling us that it’s time to wrap up the News in Review for this week, so we’ll leave you with one last note. If you’re looking for additions to your 2014 compliance training cast, PharmaCertify™ offers up-to-date modules and apps on critical topics like Adverse Events, On-label Promotion and Good Promotional Practices.

Have a great week everyone!

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