News Week in Review, January 26, 2015

Senator Warren looks to use pharmaceutical company penalties to support research at the FDA and NIH, a new report reveals that a significant amount of businesses in China pay bribes, a physician lobbies for a Sunshine Act in Scotland, and a bill is introduced in the House to exclude CME and medical texts from Sunshine reporting.

Comedy, drama and just a dash of controversy thrown in for good measure. No, we’re not referring to this year’s Oscar nominations – although one does have to wonder how The Lego Movie was snubbed for Best Animated Picture – we’re talking about the NFL’s annual supreme slugfest, the Super Bowl. This Sunday, millions will park themselves in front of their television sets to see the Patriots and Seahawks fight it out for the Lombardi Trophy (and of course, the cursory trip to Walt Disney World). If you’re ready for a brief respite from the politics of “Deflate-gate,” we offer all the compliance news fit to blog, with this week’s News in Review.

Starting on offense in our first story is Senator Elizabeth Warren. During a conference hosted by a health advocacy group, the Senator said she intends to introduce legislation that will create a fund to support research at the FDA and NIH. The fund, which Warren referred to as a “swear jar” for the industry, would be financed through fines imposed on large pharmaceutical companies that break the law. Fines will only be imposed on companies with at least one blockbuster drug, and would equal 1% of a company’s total profits for each blockbuster drug it sells.

PhRMA quickly lined up on the other side of the ball to oppose the issue. The organization pointed out that the industry spends billions of dollars on research each year and is responsible for 20% of all funding of domestic research. The statement went on to say the work of the NIH is important, but to “siphon funding from the groundbreaking medical research happening in the biopharmaceutical industry will have devastating consequences for patients and society.” Those consequences would ultimately include fewer medicines and loss of jobs.

If you think Deflate-gate is controversial, it doesn’t compare to a recent report that found 35% of businesses in China pay bribes in order to do business in the country. One CEO participating in the research called bribery the “unspoken rule.” The problem is more common in foreign companies than those based on the mainland, and the real estate and construction sectors have the highest instances of bribery. The vast majority of research participants describe bribery in China as a “plague,” and just over 60% of the participants would like to see action taken to stave off the problem. Unfortunately, a third of participants are not optimistic about that happening.

It’s third down and goal for a transparency initiative in Scotland. A physician will have his petition for a Sunshine Act in Scotland heard by the Scottish Parliament for the third time. The physician is petitioning the government to create a law that establishes a searchable database of payments from pharmaceutical companies to National Health Service healthcare workers.

We’re back in the transparency replay booth here in the U.S. as well. A bipartisan bill was introduced in the House of Representatives to exclude the value of CME and medical texts from reporting, under the Sunshine Act. This is the second go around for the bill in the House.

Well, that’s it for this Super edition of the Compliance News in Review. Whether you’re rooting for the Seahawks or Patriots, or just a great halftime show by Katy Perry, enjoy the game and we’ll see you right back here next week. Have a great week everyone!

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