News Week in Review, March 24, 2014

GSK plans to hire physician speakers as employees, the Arkansas Supreme Court reverses the Risperdal verdict, SciClone sets money aside for an FCPA settlement, and Canada strengthens its Food and Drug Act.

Are your brackets ruined? You’re not alone. They don’t call it March Madness for nothing! Take heart though, most NCAA fans are in the same boat, and that one billion dollars from Warren Buffet for a perfect bracket can still be yours…next year. As you work through the carnage of your tournament picks, we offer the solace of a week’s worth of compliance news, with this week’s News in Review.

Outside physician speakers have suddenly been delegated to the bench at GSK. The company announced it plans to hire physicians and scientists to conduct product-focused educational programs rather than pay external speakers. Bringing the speakers in house should lighten the company’s Sunshine Act reporting load, but some experts question whether the move is worth the risk of having the speakers’ credibility and qualifications questioned.

Upon video review, the ruling in the courtroom has been overturned. The Arkansas Supreme Court has reversed the $1.2 billion Risperdal verdict against J&J and Ortho-McNeil-Janssen. The companies were sued and ultimately fined for violations of the state’s Medicaid Fraud False Claims Act (MFFCA) and Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA). In an appeal, the companies argued appeal that the court erred when it ruled on the MFFCA and DTPA claims. The justices agreed on the MFFCA since the law is written to apply to a healthcare facility and not a pharmaceutical company and a majority of them agreed that the DTPA fines were not warranted.

No cash, no foul? A recent ruling in a case involving GSK and Teva seems to suggest so. A U.S. District Court judge ruled that since a settlement between the two companies did not involve a cash payout, the arrangement did not violate antitrust laws. As part of the settlement, GSK agreed to allow Teva to sell a chewable form of one of its drugs prior to the patent expiring while agreeing not to sell its own authorized generic of the drug. The Federal Trade Commission had argued that those types of arrangements have their own value.

SciClone is keeping some key resources on the bench and ready to be utilized when needed. The company announced it is reserving $2 million for penalties related to an ongoing FCPA investigation. In its annual report, the company said a settlement was probable.

A full-court press to strengthen Canada’s Food and Drug Act is in effect. The Canadian Parliament will debate a bill that would give the country greater ability to regulate drugs even after they are approved. The bill will give the Health Minister the power to recall unsafe products and require changes to labels.

If you thought NCAA rules were confusing, try figuring out the international physician spend transparency requirements. At the recent Disclosure Summit, an expert discussed the EFPIA’s Code of Disclosure on Transfers of Value from Pharmaceutical Companies to Healthcare Professionals and Healthcare Organizations (hence forth know as the Code). The EFPIA Code must be integrated into its member organizations’ code by the end of the year. That’s 33 different organizations! Further complicating the situation for the manufacturer are conflicts between the Code and existing laws in countries like France and Portugal. EFPIA is expected to release more guidance on addressing these conflicts at the end of March.

As the final buzzer sounds on this week’s Review, we offer a reminder that the PharmaCertify™ suite of customizable off-the-shelf eLearning modules and mobile apps provide the touch point learning opportunities your reps need to stay up-to-date with the latest commercial compliance information and good promotional practices.

Have a great week everyone!

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