Week in Review, April 21, 2014

The European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations increases its education efforts, GSK conducts internal bribery investigations, FCPA experts warn of increasing scrutiny and some restaurants look for creative solutions to changing pharmaceutical company requirements.

May is almost upon us, and you know what that means…so is the summer movie season! It’s a time marked by seemingly endless blockbusters and family movies, released on a weekly basis. Captain America: The Winter Soldier “sort of” represented the unofficial start of the season, and in a matter of weeks, the parade of superhero, wacky comedies, sci-fi thrillers and animated family films will begin in earnest. Hollywood’s big blockbuster may be still be a week or two away, but we have a little entertainment of our own to share, with this week’s News in Review.

Coming soon to a global theater near you: physician payment disclosure. The European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) is rolling out an education program to help companies prepare for its financial disclosure requirements. In January, companies will have to collect, and subsequently disclose, payments made to healthcare professionals and healthcare organizations. The education program, which will include webinars, leaflets and videos, will focus on current best practices and highlight how companies across Europe are preparing for the disclosures.

Look for sequels to be a popular choice for audiences this summer (How to Train Your Dragon 2, 22 Jump Street), but don’t expect GSK to be excited about another sequel on the anti-bribery front. Polish authorities are accusing the company of bribery, and the company has launched an investigation into bribery allegations in Jordan and Lebanon. In Poland, the company is accused of paying doctors for prescriptions, and disguising the payments as speaker fees. According to Polish authorities, a dozen doctors were paid fees for presentations they never delivered. GSK conducted its own investigation, saying the payments seem to be linked to one employee and that employee has been disciplined.

In Jordan and Lebanon, GSK began investigating allegations of bribery after a whistleblower contacted the company. The investigation is focused on allegations that bogus speaker fees were paid to physicians; free product was offered for the physicians to sell to patients; and a physician was allowed to exchange a business class plane ticket economy class tickets so his family could accompany him to a medical conference.

Corporations should expect even more focus on FCPA enforcement this summer and in coming years, especially now that global agencies are pooling enforcement resources. Speaking at a conference of the New York City Bar Association, two former government fraud officials, one formerly with the SEC and one formerly with the DOJ, warned that the two agencies are adding to the penalties if companies don’t cooperate with the investigations or try to obstruct the process.

Senator Grassley is planning a new whistleblower production and he is turning to his colleagues for help. The Senator announced he intends to form a Senate Whistleblower Protection Caucus to help ensure whistleblower protection laws are enforced. The plan is to recruit colleagues for the caucus throughout the year, with the goal of launching the new production at the start of the new Congress.

The rules on providing food for pharmaceutical and medical device company meetings have changed, but rather than walk away from the business, some restaurants, like Fogo de Chao, are taking a more creative approach. Leo Jakobson, editor for Successful Meetings, says the Brazilian steakhouse keeps the menus modest and informal by focusing on meals served on skewers, and all of the locations offer private dining rooms for up to 120 participants.

And that’s almost a wrap…at least for this version of the News in Review. The summer season is a great time to reconsider the impact your compliance training has had on your audience. Compliance rules, guidance and best practices are evolving, and we’re expanding the PharmaCertify™ list of mobile training solutions to keep pace with those changes. Through the release of new titles, like Understanding Global Physician Spend Transparency, and updates to existing modules like The Sunshine Act: The Federal Physician Spend Disclosure Law, PharmaCeritfy™ offers the training where your reps need it most – in the field and at their fingertips.

Have a great week everyone! We’ll see you at the movies.

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