4th Annual Life Sciences Compliance Congress for Specialty Products: A Preview

CBI’s Compliance Congress for Specialty Products kicks off next Thursday, September 13th in Boston, and Dan O’Connor, Senior Vice President for PharmaCertify, will be there to catch up with our clients and colleagues and hear industry leaders and government regulators share strategies for proactively addressing current risks for specialty pharmaceutical manufacturers.

We’ve reviewed the conference agenda and here are the sessions and presentations we are looking forward to in particular:

Day One, Thursday, September 13

Prosecutors’ Perspectives Panel

Following the opening keynote address, the conference begins with this prosecutor panel focused on biotech and specialty pharma companies. Charles Grabow, Assistant US Attorney from New Jersey, and Gregg Shapiro, Chief of the Affirmative Civil Enforcement Unit for the DOJ in Boston, will be joined by Jane Yoon from Paul Hastings, LLP, to discuss the high-risk areas for this unique industry group. Government panels typically offer some of the most compelling and important information during conferences and since this conference is focused on such a defined segment of the industry, the conversation should be revealing and educational.

Coping Strategies for the Lonely Compliance Officer

In addition to having the most creative name of any of the presentations, this session features three professionals facing the challenges that come with being a compliance professional for an emerging pharmaceutical company. We will be curious to hear how Heather Godling from Sobi, Francisco Ribeiro of Tesaro, and Sarah Whipple at Akebia Therapeutics, creatively utilize the limited personnel and resources available to them to build and maintain a strong culture of compliance.

Expert Panel: Evaluate the Risks Associated with Disease State Awareness and Other Pre-Launch Activities

The “Pre-Launch Activities” part of this title caught my eye. No matter their growth stage, all companies need to be aware of the compliance risks and concerns they face now and as they progress toward launch. That extends to compliance policies regarding interactions with healthcare practitioners. Ideally, compliance training for a new sales team should be built and planned before the product is commercialized.

Ensure Transparency in Contributions to Independent Patient Assistance Foundations
And
Reboot Your Approach to Patient Assistance Programs (PAPs) and Reimbursement HUB Support  

Patient support programs are an emerging enforcement trend in the pharmaceutical industry as more and more companies enter into settlements at least partly related to the programs (e.g., Aegerion, United Therapeutics, Jazz Pharmaceuticals). Add the high cost of specialty pharmaceutical products to the mix, and it’s no surprise that CBI has scheduled back-to-back sessions on this important topic.

Day Two, Friday, September 14

Daybreak Discussion: Specialty Café – Forecasting Priorities from Now to 2020

In a novel presentation structure spread across two consecutive time slots (8:15 – 8:40 and 8:45 – 9:10), attendees will have the opportunity to sit in small groups, share ideas and listen to their peers discuss three timely topics: Risk-based Approaches for Advanced Therapies; PBM Contracting Considerations; and Compliant Medical Affairs and Commercial Interactions. The format offers a welcome twist  from the typical large group presentation and should lead to a compelling exchange of peer-to-peer ideas. It’s a great idea.

Explore the Trends in Drug Pricing Legislation and Other State Initiatives

John Oroho, from Porzio Life Sciences, LLC, is a respected and established thought leader in the life sciences compliance industry and his presentation is a can’t miss opportunity to hear the latest news and regulatory updates on these two ever-evolving topics.

Scale Up Your Compliance Program for Global Operations

Going global can be fraught with risk and compliance traps. In terms of anti-bribery alone, pharmaceutical companies need to now consider Loi Bertrand, the EFPIA Code, the Medicines Australia Code of Conduct, and a cadre of emerging codes and regulations around the world.  These on-going changes in the global landscape make the presentation by Masha Chestukhin of Sanofi, and Darryl Williams of MediSpend, an important pre-lunch session.

GDPR is Here – Now What Do We Do?

Are you confused about the General Protection Privacy Regulation (aka, GDPR) and its impact on you as a pharmaceutical compliance professional? You’re not alone. The questions concerning details like data inventory and documentation abound, and what exactly does it mean when data subjects have the “right to be forgotten?” What about training? Who needs to be trained? How does it impact the field employees interacting with HCPs? We look forward to hearing answers, ideas and opinions from David Ryan, Vice President, Associate General Counsel, Chief Compliance Officer at Epizyme and Trish Shorey, Privacy Officer, Global Compliance and Risk Management at Shire.

If you’re attending the conference, we want to hear from you. Let us know what you think of the sessions and presenters, and conference content. And of course, if you see Dan, he’d be happy to share demos of our newest compliance training solutions and discuss how we help clients build a stronger culture of compliance and reduce risk.  

Thanks for reading!

Compliance News in Review, August 19, 2016

The Pfizer shareholder suit settlement, Open Payments Open Forum, Robert Callif addresses sharing truthful off-label information, a whistleblower suit, and it’s always Sunshiney in Germany in this edition of the Compliance News in Review.

Dum, dum, da, dum, dum, dum, dum. Dum dum da dum dum dum dum da dum dum dum dum. No doubt you recognized that familiar melody as “Bugler’s Dream” (a.k.a., the Olympic theme). The games in Rio are in full effect! If you’re like us, you’re suffering from sleep deprivation from all the hours of late night coverage. Fear not, we haven’t completely forgone compliance news in favor of sport. Take your mark, because we’re about to start this edition of the Compliance News in Review.

Pfizer is setting aside $486 million in “gold medals” to resolve the shareholder suit over concealing the safety risks of Bextra and Celebrex. The settlement is pending approval of the shareholders, and if approved, will end 11 years of litigation.

Open Payments is back on the track and poised for changes. In July, CMS posed several questions in the proposed 2017 Physician Fee schedule. The agency held an Open Door Forum for Open Payment stakeholders to provide responses to these questions. Much of the discussion focused on the reporting and reviewing of information related to teaching hospitals and whether to increase the number of payment categories. Other topics included pre-vetting data; the review and dispute process; and whether user accounts for physicians can be structured so they don’t expire after six months of inactivity.

A whistleblower claims Celgene isn’t playing the game fairly. A suit filed by a former company sales rep claims the company made donations in order to drive product sales. The suit claims the company made donations and then worked with the charities to assure that the majority of the funds were directed to patients who were using Celgene drugs. Celgene says the claims are baseless and the federal rules regarding donations were followed.

FDA chief Robert Califf spent time hurdling the issue of sharing of truthful off-label information at the recent BIO conference. In his remarks, Mr. Califf said scientifically supported information worth sharing should be on the product’s label, and that there is a responsibility to share use information gleaned through the clinical trial process and it’s reasonable to expect that information to be part of the product’s label. He noted that publicly available information that is not part of the label is trickier, and that the agency was “working on it.”

The score from the German judge is…575 million. According to the German news magazine Spiegel, payments made to German HCPs and HCOs totaled 575 million euro in 2015. The country made the data public in a searchable database following a suggestion by EFPIA. The magazine noted problems with the data being incomplete and inaccurate, and only 75% of pharmaceutical companies were represented. It called for the German government to consider legislation similar to the Sunshine Act in order to implement true transparency.

Well, we need to get back to the thousands of hours of streaming coverage – bring on the table tennis – so we’ll end this edition of the Compliance News in Review here. Enjoy the rest of the Games everyone, and stay compliant.

News and Notes from the 13th Annual Pharmaceutical Compliance Congress

CBI’s 13th Annual Pharmaceutical Compliance Congress, held last week at the Ritz-Carlton in Washington DC, offered an impressive lineup of industry luminaries and government regulators discussing a wide range of compliance-related topics. While some of the discussions didn’t offer much in the way of groundbreaking information (tone at the top, embed compliance in the businesses, relationships matter, etc.), the concepts presented were critical for any attendees new to their role or the world of life sciences compliance in general.

Embed Compliance into Business Practices

There was the expected emphasis on the concepts of embedding compliance into business practices and gaining buy-in from the C-suite. One panelist even mentioned that when asked to join her current company, she insisted that she be a member of the North American leadership team and therefore have direct access to the business leaders. As another speaker put it, “relationships matter, and you have to speak the language of the businesses in their terms.”

Tie Compliance to Incentives

One compliance officer from a small pharmaceutical company referenced the need to make sure sales incentive is tied to compliance, to make the concepts and policies more meaningful – a concept that was considered revolutionary in the industry just a few years ago. She added that sales management needs to own the compliance metrics in order for there to be lasting and real change. The same global officer touched on the challenges of doing business globally and the need to have tough conversations about spending caps. “You will get pushback,” she stressed, “but don’t compromise. There’s no need to take that kind of risk.”

Transparency: Think Globally, Act Locally

Continuing on the global front, presenters reviewed the merits and details of global transparency codes like EFPIA, while touching on upcoming movements toward laws and guidance. When dealing with global regulations and codes, the potential for confusion reigns. For example, when providing meals to HCPs from various countries, one panelist advised audience members to use the lowest common denominator for the meal limit, BUT, don’t forget to take Loi Bertrand into consideration if an HCP happens to be from France.

In addition, panelists stressed that companies can’t fall into the trap of thinking that because they are familiar with the rules around the Sunshine Act and Open Payments, they can roll right into global reporting. As one speaker from a large pharmaceutical company suggested, you have to look at it differently. “If you approach it like you approach Open Payments, your credibility will be challenged.”

Yates Memo and Individual Culpability

Among the regulators and defense attorneys who spoke during the conference, one common theme was the Yates Memo, and the affect it has (or is some cases, doesn’t have) on how investigations are conducted and cases prosecuted. The Memo, which is named for Department of Justice Deputy Sally Quillian Yates, was released in September of 2015. It generally states that the DOJ will increasingly target individuals in corporate crimes. A number of the regulators stressed that while the Memo is significant in its scope, it will not necessarily change how their offices pursue pharmaceutical and medical device cases. During the U.S. Healthcare Fraud Enforcement Panel, one US Attorney said it “codifies what they have already been doing in her office” and another commented that he asks his prosecutors to always look at individual culpability in each case.

Innovations in Training

As a compliance-focused learning company, we at PharmaCertify™ pay close attention to presentations and commentary with a slant toward training. It’s been a slow process, but based on the information and concepts presented in this and other recent conferences, it’s clear to us that companies are integrating exciting and novel techniques into their curriculums. Innovative compliance departments are adding micro-learning solutions and app-based tools in an effort to raise the level of engagement among their learners, which is music to our ears.

One company representative detailed the planning process and upfront analysis she and her colleagues conduct to ensure that training concepts meet the needs of the business as well as the compliance department. Once those needs are identified, they look for unique ways, including a healthy dose of humor, to make their messages stick. She and her co-presenter reviewed the details of the compliance app recently launched across the company, which uses self-produced video sequences, with compliance department employees as actors, to communicate the concepts. While we agree that technique can help to “humanize” compliance, as we warned in a recent post, you need to be careful that bad acting doesn’t distract from the important messages.

While this year’s Pharmaceutical Compliance Congress featured much of the same themes as recent conferences, the ever-evolving world of life sciences compliance always offers new twists and turns for those tasked with ensuring their individual companies remain in alignment with the latest rules and regulations. These conferences offer attendees the invaluable opportunity to learn best practices, tips, and updates directly from their peers and government regulators from around the world. They shouldn’t be missed.

See you at the next conference!

Week in Review, September 10, 2014

PhRMA pushes for dismissal of Integrilin off-label case, a recent FCPA settlement reveals a shift in DOJ thinking, European companies are not sure how to handle informed consent with EFPIA, and another organization wants CMS to keep the CME exemption in the Sunshine Act Final Rule.

Cue the heavenly choir; all is right with the world once again. Football season is here! The college season kicked off with some unexpected upsets, unexpected blowouts (Johnny Who? Texas A&M is here to play, y’all!), and even disruptions due to weather. The pros started the season with a kick this past weekend. The next several months are sure to be full of excitement as we get our gridiron on. For now, it’s back to the real world, as we take a look at the latest in compliance-related news with this week’s compliance News in Review.

Kicking off this week edition is PhRMA and its request to a California federal court to dismiss an off-label case on First Amendment grounds. The suit was filed by a whistleblower who alleges the three companies violated the FDCA by using truthful, off-label statements to promote a drug. PhRMA says the claim was nullified through the Supreme Court decisions in Sorrell v. IMS and the U.S. v. Caronia. According to the organization, healthcare professionals need accurate, up-to-date information about uses of medication, and neither the government nor the whistleblower alleged that the information provided about the drug was inaccurate.

The recent Smith and Wesson FCPA settlement reveals a couple of new additions to the government’s playbook, which businesses might want to note. First, the case appears to be signaling a shift in the DOJ and SEC’s focus on “high value targets” to those involving small and mid-size companies. Next, in the charges against Smith and Wesson, the internal controls violations centered on the company’s lack of an adequate compliance program, rather than financial documentation. The government noted that there was a policy prohibiting bribery in place, but the company had no process for ensuring the policy was followed.

A recent article from FCPA Professor lists four attributes of a strong compliance program that can be gleaned from a successful football program. First, understand the playbook. Effectively communicating the playbook is the first step toward becoming a successful team. Likewise, FCPA training should be executable by all employees. He suggests companies don’t need to train employees to be FCPA experts, but rather, provide them with “FCPA goggles” by which they can discern if actions are potentially problematic. Second, execution by all team members is key. More FCPA violations occur from the actions of employees doing the day-to-day work, rather than those in the C-suite or Board. Third is having a flexible playbook. A company needs to take a look at its compliance risks, and manage its own risks, not those of another company. Last but not least, play hard, but not too hard. A business can run into issues (penalties) when it competes too aggressively.

Tackling informed consent in regards to the EFPIA Disclosure Code is proving to be challenging for many companies. Data privacy laws in European countries require that companies obtain consent from healthcare professionals (HCPs) and healthcare organizations (HCOs) prior to publishing any data about transfers of value between the company and HCPs or HCOs. To complicate matters, companies also need to manage consent for direct and indirect payments. At a recent aggregate spend conference, audience members were polled as to how their company planned to handle managing consent. Most of the audience was still unsure of how it would be handled and nearly 20% said their company planned to manage consent directly, as opposed to turning it over to a third party.

The CME Coalition is jumping on the pile with comments regarding CMS’ proposal to eliminate the CME exemption from Sunshine’s Final Rule. The Coalition says the idea of eliminating the exemption is problematic because it requires manufacturers to report payments if they become aware of the identity of the payment recipient(s) within 18 months of the grant. In its comments, the organization suggested that CMS keep an explicit definition as to what constitutes accredited and certified CME, and revise the language in the CMS exclusion to be more specific.

The clock is ticking down on this edition of the Week in Review. We close with the suggestion that if your 2015 compliance training playbook needs refreshing, the PharmaCeritfy™ suite of compliance training solutions offers the eLearning modules and mobile apps you need to prepare your team to compete in today’s regulatory environment.

Have a great week everyone!

News Week in Review, March 24, 2014

GSK plans to hire physician speakers as employees, the Arkansas Supreme Court reverses the Risperdal verdict, SciClone sets money aside for an FCPA settlement, and Canada strengthens its Food and Drug Act.

Are your brackets ruined? You’re not alone. They don’t call it March Madness for nothing! Take heart though, most NCAA fans are in the same boat, and that one billion dollars from Warren Buffet for a perfect bracket can still be yours…next year. As you work through the carnage of your tournament picks, we offer the solace of a week’s worth of compliance news, with this week’s News in Review.

Outside physician speakers have suddenly been delegated to the bench at GSK. The company announced it plans to hire physicians and scientists to conduct product-focused educational programs rather than pay external speakers. Bringing the speakers in house should lighten the company’s Sunshine Act reporting load, but some experts question whether the move is worth the risk of having the speakers’ credibility and qualifications questioned.

Upon video review, the ruling in the courtroom has been overturned. The Arkansas Supreme Court has reversed the $1.2 billion Risperdal verdict against J&J and Ortho-McNeil-Janssen. The companies were sued and ultimately fined for violations of the state’s Medicaid Fraud False Claims Act (MFFCA) and Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA). In an appeal, the companies argued appeal that the court erred when it ruled on the MFFCA and DTPA claims. The justices agreed on the MFFCA since the law is written to apply to a healthcare facility and not a pharmaceutical company and a majority of them agreed that the DTPA fines were not warranted.

No cash, no foul? A recent ruling in a case involving GSK and Teva seems to suggest so. A U.S. District Court judge ruled that since a settlement between the two companies did not involve a cash payout, the arrangement did not violate antitrust laws. As part of the settlement, GSK agreed to allow Teva to sell a chewable form of one of its drugs prior to the patent expiring while agreeing not to sell its own authorized generic of the drug. The Federal Trade Commission had argued that those types of arrangements have their own value.

SciClone is keeping some key resources on the bench and ready to be utilized when needed. The company announced it is reserving $2 million for penalties related to an ongoing FCPA investigation. In its annual report, the company said a settlement was probable.

A full-court press to strengthen Canada’s Food and Drug Act is in effect. The Canadian Parliament will debate a bill that would give the country greater ability to regulate drugs even after they are approved. The bill will give the Health Minister the power to recall unsafe products and require changes to labels.

If you thought NCAA rules were confusing, try figuring out the international physician spend transparency requirements. At the recent Disclosure Summit, an expert discussed the EFPIA’s Code of Disclosure on Transfers of Value from Pharmaceutical Companies to Healthcare Professionals and Healthcare Organizations (hence forth know as the Code). The EFPIA Code must be integrated into its member organizations’ code by the end of the year. That’s 33 different organizations! Further complicating the situation for the manufacturer are conflicts between the Code and existing laws in countries like France and Portugal. EFPIA is expected to release more guidance on addressing these conflicts at the end of March.

As the final buzzer sounds on this week’s Review, we offer a reminder that the PharmaCertify™ suite of customizable off-the-shelf eLearning modules and mobile apps provide the touch point learning opportunities your reps need to stay up-to-date with the latest commercial compliance information and good promotional practices.

Have a great week everyone!