News Week in Review, April 15, 2014

Wisconsin seeks to harmonize health records, a Vermont legislator wants an exemption for the medical device industry, and the pharmaceutical industry questions how much Sunshine has had an impact on relationships with physicians (so far).

The birds are signing, the grass is a vibrant green, the flowers are blooming…it must be time for the Super Bowl…of golf that is. The Masters, “a tradition unlike any other,” and the big daddy of all professional golf tournaments, was held in beautiful Augusta amid the standard back 9 meltdowns and whispers up and down the greens. With his usual breathtakingly long drives and birdies on 8 and 9, Bubba Watson fought off the young phenom, Jordan Spieth, to win his second green jacket. But enough about divots and drivers, tee time for this week’s News in Review is here.

In the words of the great Ty Webb, “be the ball.” It’s all about harmonization, right? Well, the governor of Wisconsin certainly thinks so. Governor Scott Walker signed a bill into law that will harmonize the state’s law regarding behavioral health records with the HIPAA Privacy Rule.

A Vermont physician and legislator, George Till, would like to take a mulligan (of sorts) on the state’s physician gift ban law. He has introduced a bill in to the state’s legislature for an exemption to allow medical device companies to provide food and drink to doctors at seminars and other events sponsored by medical device companies. According to Till, physicians really need to have a “hands on” experience to familiarize themselves with a medical device. Till is a supporter of the state’s gift ban, and he doesn’t believe that his bill is in opposition to the principle of the law.

Are conflicts of interest the sand trap of the CME world? At a meeting of the American College of Cardiology, ACCME president, Murray Kopelow, spoke about the ACCME’s conflict of interest requirements. Kopelow said the ACCME is “very precise” about determining when a conflict of interest exists. The organization evaluates whether the individual: a) has a financial relationship with a defined commercial interest and b) has the ability to control the content of CME relevant to that relationship. The content of accredited CME must be valid and free of commercial interest as defined by the ACCME. Kopelow is concerned about criticisms that ACCME’s standards are hindering innovation. He says this was not the intention and special guidance has been created for those working in discovery.

Takeda and Lilly were recently assessed one heck of a penalty stroke. The two companies were ordered to pay $9 billion by a federal jury for failure to disclose the cancer risks associated with use of the drug Actos.

The FDA is not quite sure what approach to take to the proposed safety prediction and mining tool intended to help assess drug adverse event safety signals. The project was initially announced in April of 2013, but by September it was put on hold due to funding concerns. On March 31 of this year, the FDA again announced it was again looking for an outside partner for the project, but just three days later they changed their minds. The agency provided no reasoning for the latest cancellation, only saying that it would “re-advertise the contract solicitation at a later date.”

What would a Week in Review be without one story about the Sunshine Act? During PhRMA’s annual meeting, leaders from various companies said the Act was having no effect on how their companies interact with physicians. While doctors have not shut the door on the industry, Bob Hugin, PhRMA’s board chair, is concerned that once published, the Sunshine data could be mischaracterized by the public and cause the physicians to reconsider how they do business with the industry. Hugin says companies must take a proactive approach to ensure the data is presented in the correct context.

As we approach the 18th green for this issue of the Week in Review, we’ll finish with a brief word about the expanding curriculum of PharmaCertify™ compliance training solutions. If global transparency is on your radar, we are adding Understanding Global Physician Spend to our lineup of customizable off-the-shelf eLearning modules. The module covers the EFPIA Code of Transfers of Value, as well as specific country laws, like the French Sunshine Act. Contact Sean Murphy at for more information and to see a content outline.

Have a great week everyone!

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