Week in Review, May 13, 2015

European Medicines Agency changes its conflicts of interest policy, ACCME updates its requirements related to the disclosure of commercial support, Siemens may be facing corruption charges in China, Bio-Rad tries to block access to FCPA settlement documents, the FDA schedules a summer session with stakeholders to discuss the topic of off-label, and another pharmaceutical company adopts the First Amendment argument in a fight to promote off-label.

Well, the world welcomed a new royal at the beginning of May, and last week, we even learned the name of the latest little princess, Charlotte Elizabeth Diana. A lovely name for a lovely little girl, and a touching tribute to the proud papa’s mother. Of course, if you’re not an Anglophile, you undoubtedly couldn’t care less, so we’ll quickly move on to our own little bundle of joy…the latest version of the Compliance News in Review.

In other news from across the sea, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has made changes to its conflicts of interest policy. The agency will no longer allow individuals with connections to the pharmaceutical industry, or those who know they will be working for the industry, to sit on drug review panels. The previous policy left that decision up to the individual.

The ACCME has issued a royal proclamation updating its requirements for disclosure of commercial support. CME providers will now be allowed to use tabs, hyperlinks, or other electronic means to communicate commercial support to attendees. The ACCME says the move is an effort to “simplify compliance expectations and make them consistent across activity types.” The organization expects learners, as they always have, to receive disclosure information prior to the start of a CME session.

Siemens announced that its healthcare unit’s marketing and business practices are being investigated by Chinese regulators. The company denies media reports that the investigation deals with corruption, and says that it is working with regulators to resolve the matter. A Chinese government website stated that regulators were not investigating the company over bribery concerns. Siemens sells medical equipment and biochemical tests in China.

Bio-Rad raised the drawbridge on a records request from an investor. That investor has now filed a petition to have access to records related to Bio-Rad’s FCPA settlement. In 2014, the company entered into a non-prosecution agreement with the DOJ and accepted an Order issued by the SEC to resolve the matter. The investor made a request for records that related to the bribery allegations, but the company said there was no proper purpose for the records and the request did meet certain legal requirements.

The FDA will hold audience with the public during the summer to discuss off-label promotion. The agency says the meeting is being called to discuss the issue with a variety of stakeholders. The industry has been vocal about how the regulations infringe on First Amendment rights and have called on the FDA to relax its regulations. Critics worry that allowing companies to promote off-label will lead to less clinical trials and risks to patient safety.

One drug maker has decided to not wait for that summer meeting to take action. Amarin Pharma has filed suit against the FDA over its ability to share off-label information with physicians. Lawyers representing the company say the company is within its First Amendment Rights to share the information, as long as it is truthful and not misleading. The lawyers believe Amarin is the first company to pre-emptively sue the FDA over the issue. At the center of the suit is the company’s ability to share company-sponsored clinical trial information with doctors. The information indicated that the drug may be helpful for a wider patient population than what was approved. Lawyers for the company say the company knows physicians are already prescribing the drug off-label for a wider patient population, and more information, not less, should be shared with the physicians. A director with the health advocacy group, Public Citizen, says if the suit succeeds, it will undermine the FDA’s drug approval process. The FDA had no comment.

With that news of the on-going battle over off-label, we proclaim this issue of the Compliance News in Review as complete. Clearly, the focus on off-label isn’t going away anytime soon. That’s why we continually update our PharmaCertify eLearning module, On-label Promotion, with the content your representatives need to stay in compliance as they interact with HCPs.

Have a great week everyone!

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