Compliance News in Review, February 23, 2016

Did you feel the awakening? It was as if a million voices cried out in joy, then were suddenly, silently going about their business again. Geekerati rejoice! The Star Wars: Episode VII video announcing the beginning of production on the next installment has been released. December 15, 2017 can’t get here fast enough! We’ll have to wait to learn about what happens in that galaxy far, far away, but in the meantime, we can at least keep up with the recent news from the compliance universe, with this edition of the Compliance News in Review.

Do you have questions about this year’s Open Payments submission? There’s no need to seek answers using the Force while CMS is around. The agency held a webinar to discuss this year’s submission and take questions from stakeholders. CMS presented an overview of enhancements to the system and the timeline for submissions before taking questions. Those questions focused on reporting requirements, the dispute process, and the deletion of records.

UK government officials are launching an “urgent investigation” (hopefully not urgent enough to break out the mind probe) into the possibility that National Health Service (NHS) officials received consulting payments from pharmaceutical companies. The investigation is based on a report by the Telegraph that more than 130 NHS officials, most in positions to assess what medications would be used by patients, were receiving the payments. The payments were allegedly provided to the NHS workers in return for serving on advisory boards. Activities related to the advisory boards ranged from participation in teleconferences to travel to meetings outside the UK, where the participants stayed at luxury hotels.

Negotiations in the Amarin case are moving slower than a space slug. The FDA and Amarin have requested a third extension in the process as they look to reach a settlement in the case involving the off-label promotion of Amarin’s omega-3 drug. The extension will delay the court proceedings until March 18.

Pfizer has reached an agreement in principle with the federal government in a False Claims Act case involving the calculation of Medicaid rebates for the drug Protonix. The product was marketed by Pfizer’s Wyeth unit. The company will pay $784.6 million to resolve the charges, and will not admit any liability in the case.

The Jedi Master of the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) will remain in his post a bit longer than planned. The UK’s Attorney General extended the contract of SFO head, David Green, for two years. Green’s contract was set to expire in April, and now will expire in April of 2018.

France could be joining the Alliance of countries beefing up their anti-corruption laws. Draft legislation of an anti-corruption law will be presented to the French State Council for validation, and will then move on to the legislative process. The French Parliament is expected to begin its review in April of this year. Highlights of the draft include the creation of anti-corruption agency with the power to impose sanctions; a requirement mandating corporations have a compliance function in place; and the implementation of a number of Sunshine requirements, most notably the disclosure of payments to lobbyists.

Anticorruption efforts by government agencies have certainly been a hot topic of late. From the announcement that the FBI would be hiring additional FCPA investigatory staff, to the SciClone settlement, and the news of a new law on the horizon in France, governments around the world are taking steps to root out bribery and corruption. That’s why now is as good a time as any to review your company’s current anticorruption program, including the training that addresses anticorruption laws. For multinational companies, training on the FCPA alone is not enough. The UK Bribery Act is just as far reaching, and your colleagues need to understand the differences in the two laws. In addition, both Mexico and Brazil have implemented tougher anticorruption laws in the last several years, and training should be provided on those as well.

Thanks for reading everyone, and may the Force be with your compliance training efforts.

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