Compliance News in Review, July 20, 2015

The House of Representatives passes the 21st Century Cures Act, two companies settle AMP charges, oral arguments begin in Amarin v. FDA, and CMS updates its Open Payments FAQs.

Diamonds are not only a girl’s best friend…a very special mouse is fond of them as well. The Happiest Place on Earth (or, at least the one in California), is celebrating its diamond anniversary. Happy 60th Disneyland! The place has certainly changed in its 60 years, but fan favorites such as Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride and the Jungle Cruise have stood the test of time. In true Disney fashion, the party isn’t just a one day affair; it actually started back in May and will likely continue through the fall, if not into 2017. Before we cut the cake with the big ears, we have a bit of “magic” of own to administer. Grab a churro and settle in for this edition of the Compliance News in Review.

The House is celebrating the overwhelming passage of the 21st Century Cures Act. The bill is designed to fund research and change the FDA’s drug and device approval process. It includes a change to the rule its provisions are changes to the Sunshine Act which would exclude the reporting of the value of journal reprints and payments for CME.

AstraZeneca and Cephalon may be feeling a bit Grumpy. The two companies reached separate agreements with the government over charges related to underpaid Medicaid rebates. According to a whistleblower, the companies improperly reduced the Average Manufacturers Price (AMP) of their products by subtracting fees paid to wholesalers. The companies paid $46.5 million and $7.5 million respectively to settle the matter.

Oral arguments began in Amarin’s suit against the FDA. The company cited the Caronia decision and the Sorrell v. IMS decision in its argument. Much of the discussion centered on the type of disclaimers need to accompany off-label promotion and not whether Amarin even has a right to do so. The FDA’s lawyer argued the interpretation of the Caronia decision should be very narrow but the judge disagreed. A judicial order is expected in a few weeks.

The whistleblower in a case against Endo may be throwing a Mad Tea Party now that she’s been awarded $33.6 million for her efforts. The case, which was settled with the government in February of last year, involved the off-label promotion of the company’s pain patch. Despite a recommendation from government lawyers that the whistleblower receive 19% of the settlement, the federal judge awarded her 24%, citing her “extraordinary effort” in the case. The whistleblower initially filed suit in 2005, and spent five of the nine years that followed working under the direction of the FBI.

CMS has sprinkled some Pixie Dust over the Open Payments FAQs, and sure enough new FAQs have taken flight. Several of the new FAQs have to do with physicians and teaching hospitals being able to access, review and dispute the data now that the review and dispute period has closed.

If the FAQ updates weren’t enough, CMS was back for a second ride with updated information about the reporting of CME payments on the Law and Policy page of the Open Payments website. Beginning in 2016, manufacturers will have to report indirect payments to CME providers if the manufacturers learn the identity of the physician attendees or speakers within the reporting year, or the first two quarters following the reporting year.

The updates to the Open Payments website remind us that the program is evolving. Your company’s training needs to evolve and grow as well. Affected personnel need to be updated on changes, and reminded of the need to communicate with their physicians. Now is the time to map out your plan for refresher training and refocus your aggregate spend and sales personnel.

That’s a wrap on the compliance news fit to blog for now. Have a great week everyone.



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