Compliance News in “Preview”

As we wistfully wish 2016 a fond farewell, we welcome 2017 and wonder what compliance surprises, developments, and news the year might hold. What will be the hot topics debated around the water cooler in your office? The team at the Compliance News in Review has dusted off its crystal ball once again and we offer a few suggestions on what we see as the hot topics for 2017.

Drug Pricing Transparency

Drug pricing was at the top of the list in 2016. CEOs were brought before Congressional panels to explain exorbitant price hikes, and in several states, laws were proposed that will companies to disclose factors related to drug pricing for certain drugs. Vermont was the only state to pass such legislation, but California has reintroduced the bill for this session. The federal government also got in on the act with a bipartisan bill introduced in the Senate. While some of the fervor has quieted, we don’t think we’ve heard the last of pricing transparency. The passage of Vermont’s law could be the catalyst other states need to get their own laws passed.

Off-label Guidance/Revised Regulations

We don’t expect to see new guidance or regulations in 2017, but the FDA did at least start a conversation with the industry in 2016. A two-day meeting with stakeholders in November resulted in a list of diverse statements and opinions from companies, the medical community, and patient groups. The meeting with stakeholders was a step in the right direction, but a few high-profile cases (Caronia, Amarin, and Pacira) that resulted in wins for the industry, only led to more confusion and questions. We are cautiously optimistic that the FDA will at least continue the conversation and somewhat clarify the regulations.

Warning Letters and Notice of Violation Letters

The FDA’s Office of Prescription Drug Promotion (OPDP) wasn’t very active in 2016…until December, that is. At the end of the year, the agency made up for lost time by sending six letters for non-compliance with drug promotion regulations, signaling (in our humble opinion) a more aggressive approach in 2017. Most of the letters that were sent in December were related to the use of digital media.

Bribery and Corruption Enforcement

In 2016, several companies settled with the Department of Justice over Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) violations. Most notable was a $500 million plus settlement with Teva that occurred near the end of the year. We expect to see more settlements this year, with half a dozen life sciences companies already under investigation for FCPA violations, according to the most recent Corporate Investigations List on the FCPA Blog. One wonders if the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) will join the trend as well and pursue more UK Bribery Act cases now that the agency has dipped its feet into the pool of U.S.-style Deferred Prosecution Agreements. We wouldn’t be surprised to see SFO dive right into the deep end.

The 2017 year in life sciences compliance looks to be an interesting one, and we’ll be tracking the news and headlines through our Compliance News in Review updates. Don’t forget to “follow” our blog so you don’t miss any news or our tips and best practices for building and deploying the compliance training you need to reduce risk and strengthen your compliance culture.

Thanks for reading and best wishes for a compliant and successful 2017!

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