Compliance News in Review, July 2, 2015

A former medical device CEO is sentence to two years in prison, the House of Representatives moves on the exemption of payments for CME, textbooks and medical literature under Sunshine, a Connecticut APRN finds herself in hot water over kickbacks, and the first full year of physician payments data is officially available for review.

Unfurl the flag and fire up the grill! It’s time to celebrate the good ole U.S.A. Independence Day is almost here! Whether your celebration of the shot heard ‘round the world and 239 years of the great experiment take you to the shining sea, across the fruited plain, or just to your backyard, we hope it’s a safe and joyous weekend. Until the party begins, we’ll dole out a little history less of our own, with this edition of the Compliance News in Review.

Former OtisMed CEO will have his liberty temporarily revoked. The executive was sentenced to two years in prison for intentionally distributing an unapproved medical device in violation of the FDCA. He was also order to pay a $75,000 fine.

The “people’s house” has been busy recently. The House Energy and Commerce Committee announced that over 200 representatives have signed on to the 21st Century Cures Act. The exemption of payments for CME, textbooks and medical literature from the Sunshine Act is included in the bill. The House also approved a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act’s tax on medical device manufacturers. The bill now moves to the Senate for a vote.

A Connecticut APRN has admitted to accepting $83,000 in kickbacks from the drug maker Insys Therapeutic. The nurse was a top prescriber of the company’s cancer pain drug. Most of the kickbacks were in the form of payments for serving as a speaker and according to prosecutors, more often than not, the nurse and the sales rep were the only people in attendance at the speaker events. On some occasions, the attendees were friends or colleagues of the nurse who were allowed to prescribe drugs. She will be sentenced in September.

We’re waiting for the fireworks to start now that the first full year of physician payments data has been released by CMS. The payments for 2014 totaled nearly $6.5 billion, and represented 11.4 million transactions to over 600,000 physicians and teaching hospitals. Data from the 2013 program year that could not be posted during 2014 is also included in this year’s release. According to a CMS press release, “registered physicians and teaching hospitals reviewed nearly 30% of the total value of the data and the agency plans on continuing its efforts to work with HCPs to increase that review rate.”

While it’s the multi-million dollar corporate settlements that make the headlines, this week’s news shows that in the world of compliance, individuals suffer significant consequences as well. From the Board to the C-suite, across the corporation and even to the contractors, training needs to emphasize that potential violations are not just a “company problem.”

The release of the 2014 Open Payments data highlights the amount of money being spent by industry on physicians, and exposes physicians to potential criticism and scrutiny. HCPs need to be aware of the rules and regulations companies face because as far as the government is concerned, they represent the company just as the employees do. Providing training that respects these contractors as men and women of science, while fully covering product promotion regulations and law, not only protects the company, it enhances the relationship with these valued partners in healthcare as well.

Have a great Independence Day everyone!

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