News Week in Review, April 1, 2014

Signs of sunshine in Canada, the DOJ issues its first FCPA advisory opinion of 2014, and the Serious Fraud office faces growing challenges in the enforcement of the UK Bribery Act.

April showers bring May flowers…and we are certainly ready for some flowers! Really, any sign that spring is here to stay would be appreciated. We’re even looking forward to a little spring cleaning as long as the spring part comes along with the cleaning part. So with visions of daffodils dancing in our heads, and the chill of winter fading from our memories, we bring you the compliance news of the week, with the News in Review.

Those May flowers may even have a little Sunshine added to the mix in Canada. Two Canadian physicians think the Ontario Minister of Health should require pharma companies with drugs on public formulary to disclose their financial relationships with physicians. As justification, the physicians claim other transparency initiatives in the country have proven to be both beneficial and popular and studies have shown that even small tokens, such as pens and note pads, influence decision making.

The DOJ’s first FCPA advisory opinion of 2014 has sprouted. The FCPA opinion procedure allows entities to seek an opinion from the Attorney General on whether a specific situation is in line with the DOJ’s current enforcement of the anti-bribery provisions of the law. This particular opinion was in response to a financial services provider and investor bank asking if a payment due to an individual when the individual was a private citizen could be considered illegal if the individual now is a foreign official.

The Serious Fraud Office continues to face stormy weather following the disintegration of the high-profile bribery case against Victor Dahdahel. In addition to the negative publicity around the failed prosecution, the agency has faced significant cuts in funding; increasing pressure to secure convictions under the Bribery Act; and growing questions about how it expects to obtain evidence from jurisdictions outside the U.K.

The seeds of clinical trial transparency are taking root, according to the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA). EFPIA recently provided an update on the adoption of the joint EFPIA-PhRMA principle on clinical trial transparency. According to the announcement, several companies, including Pfizer, UCB and Sanofi, have all taken steps to make the results of their clinical trials publicly available. Pfizer has expanded its policies on data sharing and Sanofi will be participating in a multi-company web portal designed to share clinical trial data. UCB revealed its plans for adoption of the principles in a publicly accessible webinar.

The Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons is looking to eliminate the need for Sunshine. Proposed guidelines from the influential regulator will put a stop to the practice of physicians accepting gifts or items of value from the industry and will prohibit doctors from having articles ghostwritten by pharmaceutical companies. The guidelines will allow doctors to accept lunches, patient education items, drug samples, and funds for educational programs. Physicians will also be permitted to serve as speakers or consultants. Critics say the proposed guidelines offer nothing in the way of true reform.

Not only does the end of March signal the start of spring, it brings us the deadline for submitting Phase I Sunshine reports. Now that you’ve cleared that hurdle and you have time to stop and smell the roses, have you considered sprucing up your Sunshine training? The Sunshine Act: The Federal Physician Spend Disclosure Law from the PharmaCertify™ suite of compliance training modules, offers the updated training your staff needs to understand the law’s disclosure requirements.

Have a great week everyone!