News Week in Review, April 8, 2014

China shifts its focus to medical device, the Arkansas Attorney General petitions the state’s Supreme Court to reconsider its reversal of the Risperdal verdict, GSK dismisses employees for violating expense rules, and a new study raises questions about conflicts of interests for medical school leaders sitting on the boards of pharmaceutical companies.

Ah yes, the glittering dresses, the suave tuxes, the perfectly coifed hair. No, we’re not talking about the Academy Awards or the Golden Globes, this is much more important than all that. It’s almost prom season!

If your Facebook, Twitter or Instagram isn’t littered with pictures of your kids and their cronies in their formal finery yet, it’s just a matter of weeks. You can take some small amount of solace knowing all those happy smiling faces will one day be questioning their choice of fashion or hairstyle. C’mon, you know you did. (Let’s just say there were some very unfortunate prom fashion choices made in the 70’s and 80’s by members of the News Week in Review staff.) As we wax poetic about proms of yore, let’s also look back at the compliance week that was, in this week’s News Week in Review.

First on the dance floor is news that China intends to toughen penalties for corporate malpractice against medical device companies. The country will segment devices into three categories based on their potential risk to consumers. The new rules are set to take effect in June, and the top fine for selling illegal medical devices will increase to 20 times the value of the device.

Not wanting to feel like a wallflower, the Attorney General of Arkansas is asking the state’s Supreme Court to reconsider its reversal of the $1.2 billion verdict in the Risperdal case. The court ruled the state had misapplied the state Medicaid fraud law when it tossed the verdict, and even said the law was codified incorrectly. The Arkansas Code Revision Commission voted to provide the AG with an analysis comparing the law as written to how it was written into Code. The AG says the analysis may be helpful in obtaining a new hearing.

The chaperones seem to be working hard at GSK. The company has dismissed several individuals for violating company expense rules. The company did not comment on the number of individuals involved, but did say monitoring efforts in China have increased, and that irregularities are always investigated. Emails reviewed by the Wall Street Journal indicate the company is also investigating allegations of bribery in the Middle East. The emails focus on activities occurring in Iraq, including the hiring of state employed doctors as medical representatives while those doctors were still working for the government.

A former GSK sales representative in China tells the Financial Times that kickbacks to doctors there were widespread. According to the former rep, domestic and foreign firms routinely paid kickbacks to doctors to achieve their sales targets, and the sales model at GSK was no different than those of its competitors. GSK called the behavior “completely unacceptable,” but as AstraZeneca’s CEO pointed out, even a tough compliance program can’t stop an employee determined to stray.

A new study finds that the leaders of medical schools and hospitals are being paid handsomely for sitting on the boards of pharmaceutical companies. The study found that of the 50 largest companies, 40% had at least one board member who was in a position of leadership at an academic medical facility. The average total compensation for these individuals was over $300k per year. The study raises the potential for a conflict of interest. For example, the president of Yale’s medical school receives nearly $300k from Abbott, but a spokesperson from Yale says the doctor would not make decisions about formularies, clinical trials, or drug samples, when Abbott is involved. Several other medical schools made similar comments regarding leaders of their medical facilities who receive compensation from pharmaceutical companies.

As we cue the last song on this week’s playlist, we’ll take this opportunity to let you know the PharmaCertify™ list of compliance modules and mobile apps is expanding. If global transparency, including the EFPIA Code and French Sunshine Act, is on your radar, we’ve added Understanding Global Physician Spend Transparency to our curriculum of customizable eLearning modules. To learn more about the module, or any of topics, contact Sean Murphy at (609) 466-2828, ext. 25.

Have a great week everyone.

News Week in Review, March 4, 2014

The FDA updates its good reprint practices guidance, ACCME modifies the accreditation process, one attorney feels the abundance of qui tam cases are slowing the system, and the Solicitor General offers a suggestion to the Supreme Court on a qui tam case.

Laissez les bons temps rouler everyone! It’s the last day of the Carnival season and Mardi Gras is upon us. This is a crazy time of year in the Big Easy for sure, but even if you can’t make it to Bourbon Street, you just need to grab yourself some King Cake, organize an office krewe, and let the good times roll. As you contemplate all of the thematic possibilities for your floats, we’ll kick off our celebration of the week in compliance with this week’s News in Review.

Extravagant designs may work when designing Mardi Gras masques, but not so much for CME accreditation rules. The ACCME’s board of directors has adopted changes to simplify the accreditation process and requirements. Changes include a simplification of the process for first-time applications and the removal of some of the accreditation criteria and policy requirements. The changes apply to all CME providers in the ACCME accreditation system, and are effective immediately.

According to one expert, there are way too many attendees lining up for the qui tam ball. Peter Hutt, a defense lawyer in False Claims cases, points out that nearly 75 percent of cases brought by qui tam plaintiffs don’t result in government intervention or a recovery for the U.S. Treasury. According to Hutt, the cases are a drag on the system and he believes there should be changes to the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act. Qui tam litigation should be a second line of defense in fighting fraud, says Hutt, and he would like to see incentives in place for companies to self-disclose fraudulent activity.

The U.S. Solicitor General is suggesting that the U.S. Supreme Court not review a qui tam case involving Takeda. The case raises the question of whether a relator has to provide specific instances of false claims in order to meet satisfy rule 9(b) of the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure. Although the circuit courts are split on the case, the Solicitor General believes the split among the circuit courts is not as pronounced as it initially appeared, and as the law evolves, the courts may resolve the issue.

Merck has good reason to celebrate this week. In a securities filing, the company noted the DOJ has closed its FCPA investigation of the company, and no action will be taken.

Any celebrating at the  French train manufacturer, Alstom, will have to wait. The company is expected to face charges of violating the U.K. Bribery Act. The charges are the result of a five year investigation. In 2010, the Serious Fraud Office raided the Alstom offices and the homes of several executives in the U.K., who were arrested under suspicion of paying bribes to win foreign contracts.

The FDA updated its good reprint practices guidance to address the topic of “distributing scientific and medical publications on unapproved new uses.” In the section referencing scientific or medical reference texts, the agency offers guidance on two fronts; providing chapters from a text and providing an entire textbook. Overall, the guidance for medical reference texts and CPGs are largely the same as medical journals.

That about does it for this week’s parade of compliance news. We wish you a joyous Fat Tuesday, and we look forward to bringing you all the compliance news you need to know right back her next week.

Thanks for reading and have a great week!

Week in Review, October 21, 2013

A U.S Senator calls for an investigation into the relationship between pharmaceutical companies and the FDA, the definition of “foreign official” under the FCPA is debated in Florida, the Baycol False Claims Act case moves forward and 25 manufacturers settle with Vermont over charges of failing to file required reports.

The World Series gets underway this Wednesday with the Cardinals returning after a one year hiatus to face a scraggly, scrappy Red Sox squad. With the team from Boston representing the American League, no doubt the boys from St. Louis have gained a new legion of fans in New York. So, do you have a side in the battle, or will you just be glad when it’s over, and you can get back to The New Girl and Sleepy Hollow? Whether you’re looking forward to the first pitch or the last, we’re here to help fill the time with the current version of the News in Review.

U.S. Senator, Joe Manchin, has put a call into a different type of commissioner to investigate an alleged pay-for-play scheme between the FDA and pharmaceutical companies. In the letter to FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg, Senator Manchin expresses concern about reports of pharmaceutical companies paying thousands of dollars to attend FDA advisory meetings about the safety of pain medication. He would like to see a full senate investigation into the allegations to shed light on whether the relationship between pharma companies and the FDA caused any delay in the rescheduling of addictive pain killers.

A meeting on the mound is needed to settle an FCPA case in Florida. The case is now in the hands of three judges, and at the crux of the discussion is everyone’s favorite topic – the definition of a foreign official. More specifically, the case focuses on the definition of an “instrumentality.” Two telecom executives are accused of bribing the government-owned Haiti Teleco and defense lawyers have argued that an instrumentality has to be a direct part of the government under the FCPA, which is not the case with Haiti Teleco.

Internal controls charges are on the rise in FCPA cases, leading the Cadwalader law firm to wonder if the DOJ and SEC are poised to begin charging independent directors for failing to assure or maintain proper controls. Several companies have faced such charges recently, and as was demonstrated in the Orthofix case, companies can be charged with a violation for not having financial controls or an adequate compliance program in place. The FCPA guidance states that compliance begins with board members and senior executives, so the idea of independent directors being charged for the lack of proper controls isn’t far-fetched.

Upon further review, a whistleblower case against Bayer will move forward, but only on the grounds that the Department of Defense was defrauded, not federal healthcare programs. The False Claims Act case, which alleges that Bayer was deceptive in its marketing of Baycol, was dismissed last year because the court said the whistleblower failed to meet the specificity threshold related to false claims. The appeals court reversed the lower court’s decision.

Boston Scientific and its Guidant division have agreed to pay $30 million to settle charges of knowingly selling defective heart devices to facilities that treat Medicare patients. The government alleged that despite being aware of the problem, Guidant continued to sell defective stock and sent misleading communications to doctors in attempt to hide the true nature of the defect. The government also alleged that Guidant attempted to hide the defect from the FDA.

Vermont racked up 25 strikes against manufacturers under its Prescribed Products Gift Ban and Reporting law. The state’s Attorney General recently announced settlements with 25 manufacturers for alleged violations of the law. Most of the companies involved were small manufacturers and most of the charges levied were for failure to file the required reports. One manufacturer faced six charges of violating the gift ban.

We close with a reminder that the PharmaCertify team will be on-site at the Fourteenth Annual Pharmaceutical Regulatory and Compliance Congress next week. So if you’re attending, don’t forget to stop by the booth, say hi, and ask about our suite of compliance training modules and apps.

Have a great week everyone.

News Week in Review, September 23, 2013

The PharmaCertify™ Team

The sun, the moon, and the stars have all given their approval for the change of season, so we can make the official call…it’s FALL! Cool, crisp days and changing leaves can’t be far behind. And if that isn’t enough to make you happy, the advent of fall means that “delightful” chore of cutting the lawn will be ending soon. Gee, what a shame. Whether your favorite fall activities include pumpkin carving, apple picking, or getting lost in corn mazes, there will be plenty of time for all of that later. Now it’s time to take a look at the news from the last week of summer, with this week’s News Week in Review.

The Massachusetts legislature is kicking off fall with a number of bills aimed at the relationship between physicians and industry companies. A joint senate and house committee will discuss the bills on October 1st. The bills under consideration include a ban on drug advertising; a ban, with a few exceptions, on gifts to healthcare professionals and their family members, which will also require annual reporting on the value of permitted gifts (um…isn’t there a law in place for this?); and one that will define what constitutes a modest meal at an educational/informational presentation. The last bill prohibits the provision of alcoholic beverages at the presentations, and prohibits educational or informational meetings from being held at “resorts, sporting clubs, casinos or other vacation destinations.”

While you’re watching those fall television premieres, watch out for those drug advertisements…they’re deceptive! Or so says a new study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine. According to the study, 8 of 10 ads for OTC drugs and 6 of 10 ads for prescription drugs contained exaggerated or misleading formation, left out vital information, or made meaningless lifestyle associations. The ads aired from 2008 to 2010 during the evening news timeslot (30 minutes) on the three major networks and CNN.

Two industry trade groups are looking for companies to turn over a new leaf when doing business in China. PhRMA and RDPAC (a trade group for foreign companies in China) prepared a joint memo to address industry corruption issues in China. The memo calls on companies to employ the highest ethical standards while conducting business in China, and to react swiftly if something occurs outside the parameters of a company’s code of conduct. The memo also calls on trade organizations to enhance their efforts to ensure physicians are better paid by the Chinese healthcare system, and to encourage the introduction of ethical standards for the entire healthcare sector.

The corruption scandals and investigations in China have put a chill on the relationship between physicians and the industry. Pharmaceutical sales representatives are making fewer visits to hospitals simply because physicians are refusing to see them, and because companies have been cutting back or eliminating the visits out of caution. Sales are also down in the country as a result of scandals and the lower sales have lead companies to cut back on their marketing and promotional activities. The CEO of Sanofi says there is “a lot of confusion out there” and he expects there to still be “turbulence” in the marketplace over the next few months.

Prosecutors in the U.K. have harvested new laws and guidelines to help them pursue Bribery Act cases. A law that will allow the use of Deferred Prosecution Agreements to settle Bribery Act cases should become effective in February. The use of DPAs is expected to reduce the number of lengthy investigations, and provide companies a way to avoid the stricter penalties. The U.K. Sentencing Council has also released draft sentencing guidelines for violations of the Bribery Act. The guidelines include a tiered rating for determining a violator’s level of guilt under the law (e.g., a violator was an instigator vs. being coerced or intimated in to violating the law). The guidelines also state that fines against a company must be significant enough to have a real financial impact.

Google’s leaf pile just keeps getting bigger! The company announced it’s going to step into the bio-pharmaceutical industry, and form a research company dedicated to “health and well-being, in particular the challenge of aging and associated diseases.” The company will be called Calico, and the CEO will be Arthur Levinson from Genentech.

Now that fall is here and the daylight hours are waning, this is a good time to shift back to Sunshine. With Sunshine Act data collection in full swing, PharmaCertify’s, The Sunshine Act: The Federal Physician Spend Disclosure Law, will help you ensure customer-facing colleagues are well-versed on what information needs to be collected and reported.

Have a great week everyone!

News Week in Review, September 9, 2013

The PharmaCertify Team

That plaintive wail you heard in the distance last week may have actually been the low groan of children across the country as they boarded buses, or trudged their way back to school last week. With the passing of Labor Day, summer came to an unofficial end, and schools welcomed al (those eager and those less enthusiastic) back to reality. And for those of us who have aged beyond the school years, a heavier rush hour commute was our welcome back to reality. Good times all around. Enough waxing poetic, it’s time to swing open our own school doors and ring the first bell on this week’s News Week in Review.

A new survey shows that physicians need more education about the Sunshine Actor. The survey shows a ten percent increase in physicians who say they are “somewhat aware” to “very aware” of the law’s requirements. However, almost half of the respondents stated that they are unaware of the law. The survey also delves into the impact of the law on industry-physician relationships. Almost 40 percent of the physicians say they believe the law will negatively impact their relationships with the industry, and 21% said they would end their relationship with a company if inaccurate payment information is made public.

A federal Circuit Court has offered a whistleblower an eighth opportunity take what some would consider to be a generous makeup test. The court asked for yet another amended complaint from the whistleblower, who had filed a False Claims Act case against Bayer. The whistleblower alleges Bayer hid the dangers of two if its drugs and provided kickbacks when promoting those drugs. She claims that when she objected to the marketing tactics, she was fired. The seventh complaint alleged violations of the false claims acts of twenty one states, Washington D.C. and New York City. The Circuit Court judge tossed the state claims, along with her emotional distress and misbranding claims, but gave her thirty days to file an amended complaint.

Major Pharmaceuticals found itself in detention as a result of its settlement with Texas. The company agreed to pay $5 million to settle claims it misreported prices of generic drugs, which resulted in the state overpaying for the drugs. The case was initially brought by whistleblower, Ven-A-Care Pharmacy, and the state recently decided to join the case.

In China, foreign pharma companies haven’t exactly been the teacher’s pet lately. But, the chair of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China’s pharmaceutical work group, Bruno Gensburger, said China is unfairly targeting foreign pharmaceutical firms in its bribery and price fixing investigations. Gensburger said the targeted firms have global SOPs in place and have generally been operating in a responsible manner. He went on to say that no Chinese company has been targeted for investigation.

In its recent analysis of the global reach of the Sunshine Act, the law firm of Fulbright & Jaworksi LLP explained that Sunshine has applicability to foreign firms that have a business presence in the U.S. CMS has established an applicable manufacturer as one having a physical location in the U.S. or conducting business in the U.S., either directly or through a legal representative. Manufacturers need to consider payments made to U.S. physicians who practice abroad, but are actively licensed in the U.S.

Well, the dismissal bell is ringing on this edition of the News Week in Review. The start of a new school year reminds us that 2014 isn’t far away and this is a great opportunity to review your compliance curriculum and see where a fresh take might be needed or a new topic could be added. From Commercial Compliance Overview, to Good Promotional Practices to the Sunshine Act, PharmaCertify offers the up-to-date training your learners need to help integrate critical compliance awareness into their daily activities.

Have a great week everyone!

Week in Review, September 3, 2013

The PharmaCertify Team

September has finally arrived! While the temperature says summer is still upon us, fall sports are in full swing. The finale of MLB season is just a few short weeks away, college football opened with a bevy of thrilling games (we’re talking to you Clemson and Georgia fans!), and the much-anticipated NFL season begins this weekend. As you ponder the possibility of your team making a magical run at the 2014 Super Bowl in the league where they play for pay, we offer our picks for the News Week in Review.

We start with that new Titan of regulation in the pharmaceutical industry, the Sunshine Act. In a piece for MedCity News, Dr. Westby Fisher, reveals what he feels are some of the cloudier aspects of the law. Dr. Fisher doesn’t believe patients are really interested in scanning a database to learn what their doctor is receiving from pharmaceutical and device makers, and he points out that the government already holds much of the information on payments to doctors in the form of IRS 1099-R forms. He contends the Sunshine Act casts a light on interactions that have no effect on the costs of drugs and devices, while “back room deals” with insurers, which do have an effect on the costs of drugs and devices, continue.

A Pack of pharmaceutical companies are facing an antitrust lawsuit in Florida. The insurance trust fund of the Ft. Lauderdale Fraternal Order of Police is suing Medics and several other companies for actions that kept a generic version of an acne medication, Solodyn, from the marketplace. The suit contends that lead defendant, Medicis, filed a “sham” Citizen’s Petition with the FDA to delay the approval of the generic. The suit claims that Medics also created alternative versions of the product, in new strengths and had physicians write prescriptions for the new strengths. Impax Laboratories, Mylan and Sandoz are a few of the other companies named in the lawsuit.

All the recent publicity about bribery of Chinese doctors is hardly making the industry look like a bunch of Saints, but perhaps a piece of the puzzle is missing. According to some who work in the healthcare industry in China, Chinese companies, which control 70 percent of the market, are involved in the same behavior as the western companies, yet no Chinese company has been called to task. Analysts speculate that the Chinese government is targeting western companies in order to create a competitive advantage for the homegrown companies. Western companies in other industries, including automotive and technology, are facing scrutiny as well.

The FCPA is no longer the only Cowboy at the anti-corruption rodeo. Over the last several weeks, the Serious Fraud Office in the U.K. and Canadian courts have been busy with anti-corruption cases. The SFO brought its first charges stemming from the UK Bribery Act, and the Canadian Courts found an individual guilty of violating the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act. The risk of multiple prosecutions is more pressing than ever for global businesses.

An L.A. retailer may be feeling like a saucy fashion Buccaneer now, but the celebration may be short-lived. The retailer created a line of tee shirts featuring the names of several drugs made by manufactured like Pfizer, AbbVie and Shire. None of the manufacturers granted permission for the names of their drugs to be used on the t-shirts. Pfizer and Shire are considering options for dealing with the unauthorized use of their trademarks. AbbVie, expressed concern that the shirts trivialized the serious health conditions that its drug is meant to treat.

Well that’s it for this short workweek folks. As you plan your 2014 compliance training curriculum this fall, our mobile solutions can help you extend critical compliance content where your learners need it most – in the field and at their fingertips. Contact Sean Murphy at for a demo.

Have a great week everyone!

Week in Review, August 19, 2013

The PharmaCertify Team

Can you hear it? That low wail that’s bound to grow stronger over the next few weeks. Yes, it’s the cry of school children everywhere, as the end of summer vacation creeps closer. Yellow buses will soon populate the roadways, and the odor of freshly-sharpened number two pencils will fill the air… a wonderful time of year (unless of course you happen to be under the age of 18)! With those happy thoughts, let’s ring the bell on this week’s News Week in Review.

A new anti-corruption lesson plan is about to take effect in Brazil. The country’s president signed a new anti-corruption law that increases the country’s corruption prohibitions. The law imposes liability on corporate violators and increases fines, which can now be up to 20% of the violator’s gross revenue for the preceding year. The law, which covers corrupt payments to foreign or domestic officials, goes into effect at the beginning of 2014.

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) appears to be handing out failing grades with the filing of the first charges under the U.K. Bribery Act. The agency filed fraud charges against four men for providing false information related to the selling of bio fuel investment products. The fraud is alleged to have occurred between April of 2011 and February of 2012, to the tune of 23 million pounds.

Time for some serious homework at SciClone, Inc. The company announced it had received a new subpoena in an ongoing investigation into potential violations of the FCPA. The subpoena was received in the last quarter of 2012. Both the DOJ and SEC have been investigating the company over operations in China since 2010. The company did not disclose the particulars of the latest subpoena, but did announce its board had opened a new investigation into matters related to the company’s acquisition of NovaMed Pharmaceuticals, FCPA violations and certain sales and marketing expenses.

Corporate employees are taking their hall monitor duties very seriously. According to a report from the Network and BDO Consulting, use of the company hotline has been steadily rising over the last two years for most companies. The report evaluated over 600,000 hotline incident reports from 2008 to 2012. The companies were divided into five groups, based on number of employees. Only the group made up of companies of 20,000 – 50,000 employees saw a decrease in incident rate. The report also showed that 72% of the people who made a report via a hotline did not report the issue to a manager first.

Transparency tutoring is now available from the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (APBI). The group has launched a toolkit to help its members comply with the requirements for disclosing information from or about clinical studies. The toolkit, which includes practice guidelines, disclosure checklists and a template SO, will be updated regularly to include changing international requirements.

The final bell is about to ring on this week’s Review, but before we dismiss ourselves, we ask, have you thought about re-evaluating your compliance “lesson plans?” As the summer ends, this is a great time to think about new ways to engage you’re your learners with fresh compliance content and innovative training techniques.

Have a great week every one!

Week in Review, July 29, 2013

The PharmaCertify™ Team

Christmas in July. It’s gone from a fun little saying to a marketing gimmick to help clear out the last of the summer merchandise with Christmas shopping-esque sales. Oh, and let’s not forget the cable networks breaking out all your favorite holiday movies and specials in an effort to gain summer viewers. (BTW…still waiting on someone to show the Star Wars Christmas special. Where’s the love??!!) So, who are we at the News Week in Review to buck this trend? Pull out your jingle bells and put on your Santa hat, it’s time for Christmas in July in this week’s News Week in Review.

Facilitation payments – naughty or nice? Well in certain countries they are definitely naughty, and while “nice” may not be the exact term one wants to use when talking about them, facilitation payments are certainly a reality of doing business in some countries. A columnist with Compliance Week points out that no compliance officer wants to see bribes labeled as facilitation payments, but if paid as intended – to speed up an action a government official would do anyway – then there shouldn’t be an issue. Governments are increasingly including bans on facilitation payments in their anti-corruption laws, but are such bans realistic considering the reality of the global business environment? The U.K. Bribery Act was the first to ban facilitation payments, but now there is a movement within the government to repeal that section of the law. Canada’s recent amendment to its anti-corruption law will phase out facilitation payments, but the no time table was indicated for the phase out.

The Chinese government has been busy handing out lumps of coal as it expands its probe into the pharma industry. Thirty-nine hospital workers will be punished for taking bribes, two more Chinese employees with Astra-Zeneca were questioned in connection with an investigation of that company, and an American from an unnamed company was detained by the government in connection with an industry investigation. A spokesperson for the U.S. Embassy said they were aware of the situation and were providing appropriate assistance.

The industry can expect some unwrapping of the details relative to drug patent settlements from the Federal Trade Commission going forward. Speaking to lawmakers, FTC Commissioner Edith Ramirez said the agency plans to continue on with current pay-for-delay cases it is litigating and will be investigating new settlements to determine if they are legal. She acknowledged that most patent settlements do not involve a pay-for-delay component but the FTC’s goal will continue to be to stop the anti-competitive settlements that do.

In Chile, where it actually feels like Christmas, the Chilean Medical Association (CMC) and the Council of Pharmaceutical Innovation (CIF) signed an agreement to address conflicts of interests between the industry and healthcare professionals. The agreement prohibits the provision of donations and gifts to influence healthcare professionals’ decisions and paying physicians to conduct clinical trials of new drugs. The Presidents of both organizations said they hoped the agreement would show the public they are serious about stopping conflicts of interest. The signing of the agreement comes in advance of a vote by the Chilean legislature on the Pharmacy Law which will bring transparency to the relationship between physicians and the industry.

The need for Rudolph’s shiny nose is starting to dwindle as the CMS starts clearing up some of the fog surrounding Sunshine requirements. Andrew Rosenberg of the CME Coalition met with CMS’ Sunshine implementation team to clarify some of the requirements related to reporting payments at CME events. He was able to confirm that events considered accredited under the final rule the following are exempt from reporting; speaker travel and lodging, attendee buffet style meals and most educational items. Rosenberg was pleased with the clarification, and said, “The goal here should be to continue to encourage doctors to pursue CME and not create a barrier for uncertainty about the rules.” The CME Coalition hopes to see CMS make changes regarding the accrediting bodies whose programs fall under the CME exemption in the final rule. Rosenberg points out there are number of other accrediting bodies that have adopted ACCME standards and follow the same rules as the organizations listed in the final rule. He also said that CME events supported by accrediting bodies with rules similar to CMS’ final Sunshine rules should be exempt from reporting. The Coalition plans to continue to push this point with CMS and Rosenberg believes eventually they will win on this issue.

Christmas may still be several months off, but the start of Sunshine Act data collection is just a few days away! It is essential that those who interact with physicians understand the requirements under Sunshine to avoid a “garbage in- garbage out” scenario with all necessary data. To ensure a clear understanding of Sunshine consider our customizable, off-the-shelf module. Click here to learn more about our effective eLearning program.

Unfortunately, we must wrap up our little holiday fantasy and return to the warm reality of summer. Have a great week everyone!

Week in Review, July 22, 2013

The PharmaCertify™ Team

Apparently, the British media nicknamed Kate Middleton “Waity Katie” while she waited on Prince William to pop the question, and she proved to live up to that nickname again while she and her prince waited on the arrival of their first born. The waiting is finally over! As of press time, the Duchess of Cambridge was in labor. While the world waits to learn if the third in line for the throne is a boy or a girl, we’ll help you pass the time with this week’s News Week in Review.

With Sunshine’s due date quickly approaching, CMS released more FAQs and a couple of apps to help track payments. The latest additions cover the definition of an accredited CME program, and how (sort of) payments to physicians for promotional speaking engagements should be categorized. As to the latter question, CMS states those payments could be categorized as “honoraria” or “payments for services other than consulting,” depending on the ”specific facts.” Hmm…that’s helpful. The apps are available for industry professionals or physicians and are primarily designed to help with the payment tracking process.

The Journal of the American Medical Association has a gift for those submitting studies for publication. JAMA will no longer require independent statistical analysis for clinical studies funded by the industry. JAMA’s editor-in-chief cited improvements clinical trial reporting, including clinical trial registries and more transparency in trial data, as the reason for dropping the requirement.

There’s a new arrival in the Pennsylvania legislature. A bill has been introduced to institute a state false claims act. The bill has many of the same provisions as the federal False Claims Act, including protection and incentives for whistleblowers.

On the bribery front, China has been the focus of a number of bribery investigations in all business sectors, with the pharmaceutical industry taking center stage. The focus has been on GSK to this point, but several other pharmaceutical companies are under investigation by Chinese law enforcement, prompting one multinational company to tell employees in China to choose compliance with Chinese regulations over winning business. The regulatory climate, poorly paid doctors, and underfunded hospitals have fueled the fire for bribery in China, and made the industry a target for enforcement agencies. Chinese officials may also have another reason for focusing on the industry – the rising cost of healthcare in the country. Those costs are expected to top one trillion dollars by 2020.

Canada has decided to dress up its anti-bribery law with new amendments designed to strengthen the law. The amendments make it easier to investigate and prosecute offenses, and exposes corporate directors, officers and employees to expanded criminal liability. A criminal books and records offense (a civil offense under the FCPA) was added, as was a provision for phasing out facilitation payments. The maximum penalty for individuals was increased from 5 to 14 years imprisonment.

US law enforcement delivered multiples last week; multiple settlement announcements that is.  Amgen agreed to pay $15 million to settle allegations it violated the federal Anti-kickback Statute and False Claims Act. According to prosecutors, the company used data purchase agreements to incentivize oncologists to use one of its chemotherapy drugs. Mallinckdrot Inc. also agreed to pay $3.5 million to settle allegations of violating the Anti-kickback Statute and False Claims Act.  The company was accused of incentivizing doctors to prescribe “outdated and third-rate drugs.” The whistleblower suit claimed the company paid speaking and consulting fees to physicians in exchange for prescribing its anti-depressants and sleeping pills. The suit claimed that without the incentives, the drugs would not have been prescribed, since several of the drugs were approved decades ago.

Well, that’s about it on the news front for this week. As people around the world monitor their mobile devices for news of the royal delivery, we’ll use this opportunity to ask if you’ve incorporated mobile solutions into your compliance plan. PharmaCertify’s mobile apps and iPad-compatible training modules bring critical compliance content where your staff where they need it most – in the field and at their fingertips. For more information or a demo, contact Sean Murphy at 609-466-2828, ext 25 or

Have a great week everyone!

Week in Review, July 8, 2013

Te PharmaCertify™ Team

Well, here we are again…Monday already. Back to work we go, after what was hopefully a long weekend for you. While having one or two days off is refreshing, it tends to leave you a little foggy on Monday, doesn’t it? Never fear, we kept our ear to the ground throughout the July 4th holiday and what better way to jump start the week than with the News in Review.

A study finds that Canadian medical schools’ policies about interactions with industry are falling short. The study evaluated the conflict of interest policies of Canada’s seventeen medical schools in twelve categories, including samples, curriculum and scholarships. In most of the categories, only one school had what researchers considered restrictive policies. Some of the schools have developed new polices or revised existing policies since the study was conducted in 2011.

Bribery is no small matter, and a new report finds that bribery and corruption risks are on the rise. Nearly half of the businesses in the study say their bribery and corruption risks have increased in the last two years, and they expect that trend to continue in the future. Expansion into new markets and heightened enforcement are the top two reasons cited for the increase in risk. Nearly 20% of the businesses in the study said they either don’t require employees to read their anti-bribery policy or they don’t even have one in place.

Several GSK employees were detained by Chinese officials for suspected “economic crimes.” The detention follows allegations from an internal tipster. The company said it was aware of an investigation by Chinese officials, but the nature of the investigation was not known.

The London Police will soon start training businesses about the UK Bribery Act. The training, which is slated to begin in September, will be conducted in conjunction with the British Standards Institution, a business standards company. The London Police have 25 bribery cases under investigation.

Transparency is going global, as the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) is now requiring its member companies to disclose payments and transfers of value to physicians. The requirement was adopted by the EFPIA’s board last month, and will require member companies to begin publishing the information in 2016.

Medical device manufacturer, Baxano Surgical, formerly TransS1 Inc., agreed to pay $6 million to settle allegations it violated the False Claims Act. The company was accused of causing healthcare providers to submit incorrect diagnosis or procedure codes to Medicare for the use of its spinal fusion products. The government claims the company advised providers to use a code intended for more invasive spinal procedures than those associated with use of the their own product. The company was also accused of providing kickbacks to physicians in the form of consulting and speakers fees as an inducement to use its product, and for promoting the product for unapproved uses.

The settlements for violations of global bribery law are growing in numbers and dollars. That’s why PharmaCertify’s, Understanding and Preventing Bribery in the Global Life Sciences Marketplace is designed to help your staff and representatives evaluate the degree of risk inherent with every transaction and understand the level of due diligence and monitoring needed to ensure compliance with the FCPA and the UK Bribery Act. Contact Sean Murphy at to learn more about the module.

Have a great week everyone!