Compliance News in Review, October 5, 2015

CMS releases a new teaching hospital list and de minimis thresholds, ICD-10 is launched, New Hampshire investigates manufacturers of painkillers, and the UK Ministry of Justice reverses its position on expansion of the law.

It is fall y’all! Okay, so the stars and the calendar may have said fall arrived a couple of weeks back, but it just doesn’t seem real until we hit October. The air gets a little crisper, the leaves start changing, and we sadly reach that point when we hope against hope that we can make it through the night without turning the thermostat to “heat.”

Before you know it, all the pumpkins and scarecrows will give way to mistletoe and snowmen (insert collective groan here). Before we all run out for the annual jump into the pile of leaves, let’s grab a cup of cider and your favorite pumpkin spice treat, and review all the compliance news fit to blog, with this edition of the Compliance News in Review.

October first was quite a busy day! First, CMS released the teaching hospital list and de minimis thresholds for Open Payments. In 2016, payments to Covered Recipients of $10.22 or higher will have to be reported and the annual aggregate reporting threshold will be $102.99.

Second, Medicines Australia’s new transparency requirements went into effect. Even though the Code of Conduct was effective in May of this year, implementation of the new transparency requirements was delayed until October. One of the major changes in the transparency requirements was the requirement to report at an individual HCP level rather than in the aggregate.

Finally, October 1st was the “go live” date for ICD -10 (International Classification of Diseases, 10th edition). ICD-10 is the set of diagnostic and procedure codes used by healthcare providers to bill insurance providers and government healthcare programs. The transition to ICD-10 was mandated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and is intended to provide more detail over the previous coding system. CMS says ICD-10 will help better “accommodate future healthcare needs, facilitating timely electronic processing of claims by reducing requests for additional information to providers.” While specificity can be a good thing, could ICD-10 be taking it a bit far? Check out some of the more unique codes in the new system. A couple of our favorites are “W56.22xA- Struck by an Orca, initial encounter,” (which apparently spawned a whole book) and “W49.01XA Hair causing external constriction, initial encounter,” also known as the Flynn Rider Code.

New Hampshire is turning a cold shoulder to opioid makers. The state’s Attorney General’s Office has announced it will be investigating the marketing practices of several manufacturers of painkillers. The AG’s Office believes the companies may have engaged in fraudulent marketing practices, which may have misled doctors and patients about the addiction risks and effectiveness of drugs.

The UK is changing its colors regarding expansion of the Bribery Act. Prosecutors had been petitioning to expand the law to make it easier to prosecute businesses involved in bribery, but in response to questions from lawmakers about the proposed changes, the Ministry of Justice said it was no longer interested in pursuing the matter. The response said there was “little evidence of corporate economic wrongdoing going unpunished.”

Conflicts or confluence – decisions, decisions. A recent editorial in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) makes a case for falling away from using the phrase “conflicts of interest” when describing the secondary interests involved in clinical research. The authors suggest “confluence of interest” instead. They say “conflicts of interest” automatically sets up the notion that something wrong is taking place. The authors point out that in academia, notoriety and fame could be a stronger influence on bias than financial reward. Universities, research institutes, the NIH and medical journals can all impact bias.

October has certainly started with a bang, in the world of physician spend transparency, both here in the U.S. and abroad. The news offers a good reminder that transparency and disclosure measures are constantly evolving. Yet another change will be upon us in 2016 with the removal of the exclusion for speaker of faculty payments for accredited CME.

With all of the changes in motion, now is a perfect time to refresh your company’s training on the requirements of the Sunshine Act and Open Payments. Ensuring your team is aware of the changes is critical, and those in the field need to understand the impact the law has on the healthcare providers they interact with on a regular basis.

That’s a wrap on this edition of the Compliance News in Review. Enjoy the cool weather everyone and have a great week!

Compliance News in Review, July 10, 2015

The government targets Novartis for False Claims violations, pharmaceutical companies map out a plan to keep medication flowing into Greece throughout the crisis, and the industry as a whole ponders the impact of the CMS release of 2014 transparency data.

The days are long and lazy – it’s time for summer vacation! From the beach, to the mountains to foreign destinations, the News in Review staff is finalizing plans for summer R&R. Rest assured though, we are still hard at work keeping up with all the compliance news fit to blog, starting with this sun splashed edition of the Compliance News in Review.

The Justice Department and 11 states are putting a dent in the Novartis vacation account with a $3.4 billion charge for damages and fines in a False Claims Act case involving kickbacks to pharmacies. According to prosecutors, the company offered rebate and discount programs to pharmacies in exchange for increased prescriptions of two drugs. Novartis disputes the allegations and says it will continue to defend itself. A trial has been set for November.

Pharma companies are mapping out a plan to keep medication rolling into Greece. According to the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA), the complexity and fragmented nature of the Greek medicine supply chain makes the flow of medication vulnerable. Pfizer, Roche and Novartis said they have plans to ease any shortages during the crisis, and AstraZeneca and GSK have both said they are drawing up contingency plans to keep medicines in supply.

CMS and agg spend folks are probably ready for a break in their routine now that the 2014 Open Payments data has been published. The data shows that companies paid physicians almost $6.5 billion for the year, with over 11 million transactions reported. Research payments topped the list with over $3 billion paid, there were $2.5 billion in general payments and $700K was reported on the ownership reports. CMS was able to validate close to 99% of records submitted to the system, which is a vast improvement over the 2013 data. As was the case in 2014, the majority of the reported payments were small. Sixty-six percent were for payments of less than $20. Research and royalty payments represented the largest dollar amounts.

Once the Open Payments data was released, the numbers quickly found their way into the media. The focus on payments to physician and the influence those payments have on prescribing decisions and healthcare at large is at an all-time high. That level of scrutiny highlights the need for training on the Sunshine Act and Open Payments – especially for those interacting with HCPs. While much of the work related to the reporting requirements is a “back office” function, those interacting with HCPs are often the first to hear concerns from the field and they need to be prepared.

In addition, the public release of the data opens companies to examination of their business practices from whistleblowers and enforcement agencies. Critical evaluation of training is important. Are all the appropriate audiences being covered? Is the training up to date? Is a refresher required? Regular audits of training curriculums and plans are key to reducing the risk of questionable payments, and could spare the company expensive costs down the road.

Have a great weekend!

Looking Ahead: CBI’s 9th Annual Forum on Transparency and Aggregate Spend

The release of the first full year of data under the Open Payments Program is just around the corner, which naturally means transparency and aggregate spend are top of mind these days. Will the data be released without any issues? How will the media react?

With aggregate spend on the mind, the NXLevel Solutions PharmaCertify™ team is looking with interest at the conference agenda for CBI’s 9th Annual Forum on Transparency and Aggregate Spend. We’ve selected a few sessions of particular interest.

Here’s what caught our attention:

Strategies to Reduce Compliance Risks and Optimize Commercial Programs Using Transparency Analytics – Obviously, companies are collecting mass amounts of data to comply with transparency requirements here and abroad. Analyzing the data to identify potential compliance risks is a great way to help fine tune training as well. For example, such an analysis may reveal areas where more in depth training is needed, or it may identify a new audience that needs training on a particular topic. We’ll be interested to hear how training fits into the agenda for this session.

State Disclosure Laws – Preemption, Enforcement and Continued Reporting – Just when we thought the Sunshine Act would clarify state reporting requirements, more changes have arrived in our in box; the latest requiring the reporting of payments to nurse practitioners in a couple of states. This session looks to be a great opportunity to learn the latest in state requirements, and to hear how those states plan to utilize the federal data.

HCP Perspectives on Transparency – Impact and Opportunities Moving Forward – Applicable Manufacturers are not the only ones affected by the Open Payments Program and other transparency initiatives. With little to no voice in the matter, healthcare professionals bear the brunt of having information about them exposed to the public. Understanding HCPs’ transparency concerns is a critical step in training those who interact with HCPs.

The Global Transparency track, which includes a session on Building a Global Transparency Solutions Center, is dedicated to the transparency requirements of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA). With reporting beginning next year, EFPIA requirements are no doubt a hot topic, but EFPIA’s requirements aren’t the only ones of concern outside the U.S. Understanding the requirements of each code and law and finding commonalities is important when building the systems to manage the data, and building effective training around these requirements. Can training be repurposed from one jurisdiction to another? What “lessons learned” from one location can be applied as more associations and countries implement transparency requirements?

In between conference sessions, we invite you to stop by the PharmaCertify™ booth to discuss your global transparency training challenges in more detail. We’ll be providing demos of our TOV Disclosure Portal™, an exciting new product that gives your company the opportunity to roll out transparency payment data to your partner HCPs for their review and approval before it is submitted to CMS. When disputes are resolved early, HCPs are more confident in the accuracy of the data, and the company/HCP relationship is enhanced. And, if you have to miss this year’s conference, contact Sean Murphy at smurphy@nxlevelsolutions.com.

Stay compliant and we’ll see you in August!