Compliance News in Review, February 1, 2016

It’s Super Bowl week! Another season of ups, downs, highlights, lowlights, hope, and unfulfilled expectations for fans around the country (except for those lucky enough to root for the winning squad) is about to end. Now we’re left to fill a long seven month void until training camp begins anew and hope springs eternal (we know, we’ve mixed our sporting metaphors). Whether you’re pulling for the Broncos or the Panthers, or just a strong lineup of new commercials (spoiler alert), the day is bound to deliver cheers, groans, and snacks aplenty. Before you dive into the game preparations, we offer a playbook of our own, with this edition of the Compliance News in Review.

We kickoff this edition with news from the expanding world of federal oversight. The DOJ announced that it is adding some muscle to the huddle, and bolstering its anti-corruption resources, by hiring ten new prosecutors for its FCPA unit.

It’s time for a regulatory end zone dance in Kentucky. State Attorney General, Jack Conway, has entered into settlements with Endo and Johnson & Johnson over accusations related to the companies’ marketing practices. The state settled with Endo for $24 million over its marketing of OxyContin. The suit accuses the company of positioning the drug as “non-addictive” and encouraging reps to tell doctors it was less likely to be abused than other opioid drugs. The settlement will be used to fund addiction treatment programs. The state settled with Johnson & Johnson for $15.5 million over the marketing of Risperdal for unapproved uses.

The physician leading the charge for a Sunshine Act in Scotland says the public consultation on his petition to Parliament is “unbalanced.” Dr. Gordon, a former National Health Service psychiatrist, says that Parliament is not presenting full information about the current status of the disclosure of payments from life sciences companies to NHS workers. He says information being presented to the public implies that current disclosure rules may be working and sufficient. The doctor claims the evidence presented in his petition shows that payments are escaping current disclosure requirements. Twelve public discussion groups have been held to discuss the matter and more will be scheduled.

The news on the Final Rule is finally off the bench! At long last, the Average Manufacturer Price (AMP) Final Rule has been released. Included in the new rule is language now excluding sales to 340B covered entities from AMP and Best Price (BP); and revised language regarding the exclusion of patient coupons, vouchers and free goods from AMP and BP. In other news from CMS, the Open Payments system is now ready to begin accepting registration, recertification of registration, and data submissions from applicable manufacturers and GPOs. Data submissions for the 2015 calendar year are due March 31st.

Has the ruling on off-label promotion been reversed upon further review? In proposed jury instructions at the trial of a medical device company and its chief executive, the DOJ indicated that it is “not a crime for a device company or its representatives to give doctors wholly truthful and non-misleading information about the unapproved use of a device.” Does this change the off-label playing field?

Before choreographing an end zone dance of our own over the last bit of news, we have to think about what it really means and whether anything really changes. For trainers, probably not. Even if the government is ever so slightly agreeing that truthful off-label speech is lawful, the fact remains, untruthful off-label speech is illegal. Therefore, now is not the time to abandon or diminish on-label training. Your training must still cover the illegal nature of off-label speech, and the proper handling of off-label inquiries. The importance of vetting promotional statements before they are shared with HCPs or the public must still be stressed.

Well, that’s a wrap for this edition of the Compliance News in Review. If you have a side in the big game, good luck!

Week in Review, November 5, 2014

The OECD questions Japan’s bribery law, OIG releases its 2015 Work Plan, CMS hopes to clarify the issues with data mingling, and Biomet settles False Claims Act charges against one of its subsidiaries.

Well, it certainly was a spooktacular weekend full of ghosts, goblins, and sugary goodies. November is upon us and Thanksgiving is just around the corner. But before we start the annual debates over canned or real cranberry sauce, or apple pie vs. coconut custard (a particular favorite at the Week in Review home offices), we have one more treat; this week’s News in Review.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is taking issue with Japan’s ghost-like anti-bribery enforcement efforts. Japan does have a law prohibiting bribery of foreign officials, but it has done little in the way of enforcing that law. Under pressure from the OECD, the Japanese government developed a plan to increase enforcement, but the organization claims the law doesn’t address key issues, such as facilitation payment. The government plans to make more changes, but businesses are not waiting. According to Transparency International, a number of businesses are seeking guidance on how to develop effective anticorruption programs.

If you’re looking for a little something to help you take advantage of that extra hour of sleep we picked up over the weekend, the OIG has released its 2015 Work Plan. Sweet dreams.

CMS provided a few treats for applicable manufacturers and GPOs caught up in the data mingling issue that occurred during the inaugural submission of physician payments records. The agency has returned the report records to those affected and has given manufacturers and GPOs until March 31, 2015 to re-submit corrected records. A webinar for organizations with a returned record report is scheduled for November 13th and CMS is also providing a Validated Physician List in the Open Payments portal.

It wouldn’t be Halloween without a few surprises and CMS was happy to oblige. The agency announced several changes to the Sunshine Act Final Rule. The changes include the removal of the CME exemption; the deletion of the “covered device” definition; a requirement to report the marketed name and therapeutic area of a covered drug, device or biologic; and a requirement that stocks, stock options and any other ownership interest be reported as separate categories. The changes are effective immediately, but due to comments from industry CMS and the time needed to make changes to manufacturer systems, the changes will be implemented in the 2016 collection year.

On the settlement front, Biomet agreed to pay $6 million to settle charges it violated the False Claims Act. According to prosecutors, EBI, Inc., a Biomet subsidiary, provided kickbacks to encourage physician office staffers to use its bone growth stimulating product. The lawsuit was filed under the False Claims Act by a former product manager.

We close this week’s Review with a reminder that as you look to expand, supplement, or revamp your compliance curriculum, PharmaCertify™, from NXLevel Solutions, offers the off-the-shelf and custom training solutions you need to continually deliver critical compliance content where your staff needs it most – in the field and at their fingertips.

Have a great weekend everyone.