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!

The 2016 Pharmaceutical Compliance Congress: a Preview

On April 26 and 27, compliance professionals and government representatives will gather in Washington, D.C. for the 13th Annual Pharmaceutical Compliance Congress. As usual, the conference offers a cornucopia of sessions and workshops focused on important compliance topics. There is plenty to see and learn, but here are the topics that have piqued our interests:

Day One General Session: FMV Considerations and Emerging Compliance Risk – In this age of transparency, FMV is a hot topic for life science companies and healthcare providers alike. This session, along with the breakout sessions on the same topic, offer a great opportunity to identify emerging risks related to FMV, and learn best practices from industry colleagues.

Day One General Session: EFPIA Initiatives for 2016 and Beyond — Charting the Course for Global Transparency – EFPIA members have completed their first year of data collection to comply with the Disclosure Code. We’re hoping to hear about the early challenges companies are facing and EFPIA’s plans for the future of its transparency initiative.

Day One Track: Product Promotional Compliance – In particular, we are interested in two sessions:

Social Media — New Challenges and Opportunities: While social media presents a unique set of challenges, its affect on life sciences marketing and compliance has to be taken into consideration.

Speaker Programs and Medical Roundtables — Environment and Areas of Risk: In this era of increasing scrutiny, we’re specifically interested in hearing about the emerging risks surrounding roundtables and the strategies for mitigating those risks.

Day One Workshop: Analyze FCPA Updates and Identify Areas of High-Risk to Mitigate Non-Compliance, paired with the Day Two General Session FBI address, International Corruption Squads – the FCPA and Beyond – At the end of 2015, the DOJ announced that it planned to hire 10 additional attorneys for its Fraud Division FCPA Unit. Also, the Serious Fraud Office entered into its first corporate Deferred Prosecution Agreement for violation of the U.K. Bribery Act last year. Enforcement of anti-corruption laws continues to be a priority for the U.S. and governments abroad. Learning about the emerging risk areas, and how various agencies cooperate in enforcement, is key to ensuring that your anti-corruption program is covering all the right bases.

Day Two Track: Fraud, Abuse and Kickback Prevention – The scrutiny of payments to physicians is only going to increase as more entities comb through transparency data. Concern from investigators and enforcement agencies about the potential for kickbacks is growing. The discussion on anti-kickback enforcement trends, and the establishment of compensation limits will be helpful when addressing your organizational kickback risks.

Day Two Discussion Group: Focus on Pricing – Considerations for Compliance as Scrutiny Heats Up – Last year, we saw the largest settlement ($12.4M) under the OIG’s Civil Monetary Penalties Authority. The settlement was over price misreporting, and enforcement in this area isn’t about to let up. This session presents a great opportunity to learn about best practices and the challenges compliance professionals are facing regarding government pricing.

Day Two Track: Compliance Program Structure and Effectiveness – Engage the Organization to Promote Ethics within Compliance

Okay, we may be a bit biased on this one, since Peter Sandford from NXLevel Solutions is one of the presenters, but as your training audience evolves, so should your compliance training. As millennials bring a new sense of energy and expectations to the industry, implementing modern and innovative learning strategies is more important than ever. Peter and his co-presenter, Jim Massey – Vice President, Global Compliance, Enablement & Assurance, AstraZeneca, will share five key principles for integrating creative and engaging compliance training into your organization.

We invite you to stop by the NXLevel booth to see demos of our compliance-focused training solutions and to share your thoughts on the sessions. And while you’re there, don’t forget to enter our drawing to win a Bose® SoundLink® Bluetooth speaker.

Stay compliant and we’ll see you in Washington!

CBI’s 9th Annual Forum on Transparency and Aggregate Spend: A Review

CBI’s recent Forum on Transparency and Aggregate Spend covered a variety of topics affecting the collection and reporting of aggregate spend data. The conference featured speakers from industry, government agencies, and service providers sharing lessons learned and best practices related to aggregate spend collection and data disclosure.

After a day of pre-conference workshops, the main conference began on Day Two, and it started with a bang. The keynote address, An Update on Open Payments Reporting, was delivered by Doug Brown, CMS Group Director, Data Sharing and Partnership Group, Center for Program Integrity. Mr. Brown shared statistics on the data submitted for the 2014 reporting year. 11.4 million records were received, covering 600,000 individual physicians. In a vast improvement over the previous year, 98% of submitted records were accepted. Brown attributed this improvement to the introduction of the validated physicians list (VPL) and better data matching. An analysis of rejected records is underway, and CMS is looking for ways to improve the taxonomies associated with covered recipients.

During the review and dispute period, CMS received 30,000 disputes on 25,000 unique records. The disputes were evenly distributed among the covered recipient type, with physicians representing 35% of disputes, teaching hospitals 38% and principal investigators 27%. According to Brown, disputes were evenly split between the general and research payments reports. Very few disputes were lodged against payments reported on the ownership report. The median value of total payments is 4.5 times greater for registered physicians versus unregistered physicians.

Brown also shared information regarding the anticipated enhancements to the Open Payments system. The restrictions around special characters in the text fields will be removed (cue the heavenly choir). CMS is also working to better facilitate the review and dispute process. According to Brown, many of the disputes were not true disputes, but could better be classified as inquiries. CMS is working to provide a method for distinguishing between a payment inquiry and a payment dispute. The agency is also working to enhance the ability for manufacturers to download their data from the site, regardless of the file size, and it hopes to extend this capability to covered recipients as well.

Brown reminded the group that new de minimums payment information and the list of teaching hospitals will be released on October 1st. CMS is planning more Q&A teleconferences in the future. Speaking of which, during the Q&A period following the presentation, Brown was asked about having a moderator on teleconferences to alleviate the “wild west” that currently exists when the call opens up for participant questions. He said that was something he would absolutely consider, but he prefers the conversational style of the current format.

William Killian, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee, and Jacob Elberg, Chief, Healthcare and Government Fraud Unit, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey, also presented on behalf of the government. They discussed current trends in government enforcement. Mr. Killian said emerging enforcement trends in his and other offices involved fraud related to Medicare Part D, lab services, hospital services and hospice care. He noted that the civil and criminal prosecutors are often involved in parallel prosecutions. Mr. Elberg referenced a continuing trend in his office involving the prosecution of kickback cases. He said those cases are typically at the individual practitioner level, and occur locally or globally. Cases that involve activities outside the U.S. can implicate the FCPA and his office shares information with FCPA fraud units. Elberg also discussed other continuing trends involving FDCA prosecutions, including those involving off-label promotion and cGMP violations.

Rounding out the “law-focused” presentations for the day was a presentation about state laws by Brian Bohnenkamp of King & Spalding. Mr. Bohnenkamp led off by discussing federal pre-emption and how it relates to state reporting. He noted that there are times where the reportable items under federal law are not reportable under state law (and vice versa), and reminded the audience of the criteria for pre-emption under the Sunshine Act. He suggested that decisions on whether pre-emption should be applied to a particular payment should be made on a case-by-case basis. He also noted that they are seeing more companies take advantage of federal pre-emption in reporting under state laws, and used the example that a number of companies did not have anything to report under Minnesota’s law due to that pre-emption. Bohnenkemp also highlighted the recent exemption in D.C.’s detailer licensing requirement for individuals who are involved in detailing for “less than 30 consecutive days per calendar year,” and he reviewed prescription drug pricing transparency proposals in a handful of states – one example being Massachusetts, which still had not provided guidance about quarterly meal reports reported under that state’s law.

The majority of the rest of the Day Two sessions focused on data and processes directly related to interacting with the Open Payments system. Sessions and panel discussions covered topics such as leveraging the data within the organization; using data to minimize compliance risk; and remediating data and the data attestation in Open Payments. Two key themes emerged: 1. Clean data is key (the garbage in garbage out idea) and 2. Communication with the organization and those outside the organization (your vendors and physicians) about the data is critical.

A number of speakers and panelists in the sessions stressed the importance of consistency in names, addresses, and format for physician ID numbers across the various in-house and vendor systems that house spend data. A periodic review of the data is an important best practice to deal with any issues along the way. Most panelists and speakers felt that a quarterly review was an achievable goal. More frequent reviews would be ideal, but could prove a challenge for companies with fewer resources. In addition, companies should engage the business early and often about what the data reveals and how that information can be leveraged to reduce risk and impact sales. Communication with physicians in advance of the CMS review and dispute period was recommended. This does not necessarily mean disclosing all the data, nor pre-disclosing to every physician about whom you have data. Setting a minimum TOV threshold for pre-disclosure, or pre-disclosing only to select KOLs were suggested as means of making the pre-disclosure beneficial to both the physician and the company.

Speaking of physicians, Day Two included a panel discussion moderated by PhRMA Executive Vice President and General Counsel, John Murphy, on the physician’s perspective of Open Payments. Panelists included Dr. Maya Babu of the Mayo Clinic and AMA Board of Trustees member, and Dr. David Barbe, former Chair and current member of the AMA Board of Trustees. The panelists said the main concerns of physicians are centered on the potential for bad data being presented to public, the ability for physicians to access the data, the implications of the data, and the impact the Open Payments program will have on relationships with the industry. While there have been improvements in the registration process, there are still issues with access, specifically, problems with particular browsers being able to access the site. The panelists felt strongly that being able to access the data through a site set up by the manufacturer would be helpful, or even having a sales rep provide the data personally.

The United States certainly hasn’t cornered the market on physician spend transparency. Global transparency was addressed on Day Two, predominately in a discussion group at the end of the day. On Day Three an entire morning track was dedicated to issues related to global transparency. The featured presentation (and highlight of the conference) was an address by Andrew Powrie-Smith, Director of Communication for the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA).

Mr. Powrie-Smith briefly covered the nuts and bolts of the EFPIA Disclosure Code before turning to a discussion of transparency in general. The industry believes transparency is about demonstrating that there is value in the collaboration between industry and healthcare professionals/organizations, which ultimately delivers better patient care. However, being transparent is not without its challenges. Primarily, with the exception of countries, such as France, where there are physician spend disclosure laws, managing transparency efforts in face of the EU privacy laws is challenging. The EFPIA Disclosure Code requires the disclosure of certain transfers of value at the individual practitioner level, and requires that disclosure to be made available to the public. In order to meet these requirements, companies must obtain consent from physicians to disclose private information about them. Further complicating the matter is that even if consent is given, it can be revoked at any time.

Mr. Powrie-Smith said EFPIA is currently conducting a survey regarding the industry stance on obtaining the necessary consents for disclosure of transfers of value at the individual level. Thus far, EFPIA has seen a large variance in the rate of consent across Europe. A culture shift is necessary to address the variance and the industry must take a leadership role in that shift.

The concept of gaining and managing consent was emphasized in other presentations as well. Representatives from BMI Systems shared data on the rates of consent presented by various pharmaceutical industry trade organizations at an EFPIA meeting in May. In Germany, the consent rate was 50-55%, and the industry trade organization in the country said that was about what they expected for the first year. Poland’s trade organization noted in March they were at a 20% consent rate, and Spain’s trade organization reports only a 10% consent rate. Representatives from IMS Health dug into issues with gaining consent as well. They discussed how codes and laws differed from country to country, specifically regarding the timelines for obtaining consent (e.g., at time of contract, or at any time during the reporting period); the scope of the consent (e.g., per activity type, per contract); from whom consent is required (e.g., HCPs or HCOs); and required consent documentation (paper or digital).

The 9th Annual Forum on Aggregate Spend and Transparency offered useful information for any attendee responsible for data collection, report submission, or analytics inside or outside the U.S. Beyond the nuts and bolts of aggregate spend, the presentations focused on the value of the data for the organization and the physician. Data provides insight for commercial teams and their programs, and the compliance risks for the company. Most importantly, as communicated by Andrew Powrie-Smith, transparency around spend data is important, because it reveals the benefits of the industry/HCP relationship to patients, payers and the public.

 

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!

Week in Review, May 6, 2015

Connecticut delays the implementation date for its the APRN reporting law, CMS releases 2013 Medicare Part D data, the Medicines Australia Code of Conduct is approved, and lawmakers release draft legislation that includes an exclusion for reporting CME payments under Sunshine.

Avengers Assemble! The highly anticipated Avengers: Age of Ultron, opened last weekend and apparently a lot of us assembled for the opening. The film managed to land the second largest opening weekend box office numbers in history. Considering the title holder is the first Avengers movie, coming in second isn’t that much of a loss for the franchise. You won’t find any spoilers here…after all, not all of the Compliance News in Review staff have seen it yet.

The next Avengers movie is slated for 2018, but in the meantime we can look forward to 2017 and the new Guardians of the Galaxy movie…and of course, collecting spend data for APRNs in Connecticut.  The State has once again delayed the implementation date for the law, which requires drug and device manufacturers to report transfers of value to APRNs.

$103 billion: Tony Stark’s net worth or Medicare drug spending? If you answered Medicare drug spending, you are correct. CMS released data revealing the prescriptions that were covered by Medicare Part D in 2013 and the names of the doctors who wrote the scripts. The costliest drug was Nexium at $2.5 billion, and the most prescribed drug was Lisinopril (cost $300M). PhRMA said the data does not reflect the substantial rebates pharmaceutical companies pay to Medicare. The American Medical Association said the data could be misleading because the dose and strength of the medication is not included in the information. Doctors often change the dosage or strength when patients don’t respond as expected.

After extensive negotiations, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has approved Medicines Australia’s Code of Conduct. Much to the chagrin of industry critics, the ACCC went along with a change that will impose a $120 spending limit on meals and beverages provided to physicians. The “opt out” loophole has also been removed. The Code goes into effect in mid-May.

Lawmakers introduced a draft legislation “sequel” that includes an exclusion for most payments associated with CME from the Sunshine Act reporting requirements. The move to exclude the requirements was applauded by the head of the CME Coalition. The legislation is part of the larger 21st Century Cures effort, and is a paired down version of a draft that was originally introduced in January. Drug makers would also be able to share health economic information about products with physicians.

With that, we have reached the end of this week’s compliance tale. Speaking of the Medicines Australia Code of Conduct, the new PharmaCertify™ module, Global Transparency: Reporting HCP and HCO Transfers of Value includes up-to-date covering the policy, as well as the EFPIA Disclosure Code and Loi Bertrand in France. Contact Sean Murphy at smurphy@nxlevelsolutions.com for more information.

Have a great week everyone!

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!