Compliance News in Review, April 19, 2017

The city of Chicago releases sales representative licensure rules; review and dispute time is here again; opioid manufacturers receive letters and negotiate settlements; and Australia proposes changes to its bribery law, in this edition of the Compliance News in Review.

April showers may bring may flowers, but they also bring something else…the Boys of Summer. Major League baseball is back! Much of the buzz seems to center around a former Heisman Trophy winning quarterback and his homerun prowess. Whether your team is off to a hot start (we’re looking at you Yankees fans) or surprisingly struggling (are the Blue Jays already too far out?), there’s plenty of time for the standings to change as the temperatures warm. For now, buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack and settle in for this edition of the Compliance News in Review.

Our first story comes from Chicago, home of the 2016 World Series champion Cubs. The City has released draft rules for its pharmaceutical sales representative licensure ordinance. The initial license is $750.00. Like the rules in place for detailers in Washington DC, Chicago’s ordinance has a continuing professional education provision. Education provided by the rep’s company will not suffice in meeting the requirement unless the company applies for and receives approval from the city. The draft rules also require sales representatives to track their interactions with healthcare professionals.

April 1st was opening day for the Open Payment’s review and dispute period. Physicians and teaching hospitals are free to review recent submissions to the system and dispute items they believe are incorrect. The review and dispute period for the 2016 Program Year ends on May 15th.

Senator Claire McCaskill sent letters to a lineup of opioid manufacturers requesting that they provide information related to sales, marketing and education strategies used to promote their products. from which she wants some information. McCaskill acknowledged that most of the players in the opioid market act responsibly and she said the purpose of her investigation is to learn if any of the practices

Mallinckrodt has agreed to settle a DEA probe for $35 million. The settlement involved the company’s suspicious order monitoring program for controlled substances. The settlement is under review by the DOJ and DEA. In a statement, Mallinckrodt said it had not violated the law, and the settlement does not include an admission of liability.

Australia appears to be poised to move its bribery law up to the major leagues. Government officials there announced that several reforms were being considered to deal with bribery of foreign public officials. The reforms include the addition of a “corporate failure to prevent bribery” offence and use of deferred prosecution agreements to encourage self-reporting. Among the changes proposed, the definition of a foreign public official would include political candidates and bribery offences would extend to those that offer a “personal advantage,” not just a “business advantage.”

The anticorruption landscape continues to evolve. The PharmaCertify Compliance Foundations™ eLearning module, Global Anticorruption Laws, covers the concepts common to most anticorruption/anti-bribery laws, as well as the specifics related to laws such as the FCPA and the UK Bribery Act. In addition, our new Compliance QuickTake™, Recognizing and Reducing Third-Party Risks, covers the risks associated with working with third parties, in a targeted microlearning format.

The PharmaCertify™ team will be offering demos of our compliance training products at the Pharmaceutical Compliance Congress in Washington next week. Stop by Booth 10 in the Exhibit Hall to say hi, and while you’re there, enter our drawing to win a JBL SPLASHPROOF PORTABLE SPEAKER.

See you in Washington!

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 for more information.

Have a great week everyone!

Week in Review, April 27, 2015

Teva settles a pay-for-delay case, the FDA migrates toward electronic submission of promotional materials, a circuit court rejects off-label claims against Medtronic, and several states introduce legislation requiring drug makers to release the costs associated with expensive drugs.

Lordy, lordy, King Arthur is Forty! Monty Python’s version of King Arthur that is. The comedy classic, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, is celebrating its 40th anniversary. If you’re not familiar with the film, forget what you think you know about King Arthur’s quest for the Holy Grail. This version certainly reveals a side to Arthur, his Knights and life in medieval Britain that has never been explored. Whilst we consider the merits of this classic comedic cinematic achievement, we’ll leave you with an epic tale of our own. To horse fine people…it is time for the Compliance News in Review.

Now this is a lot of coconuts. Teva has agreed to pay $512 million to settle a pay-for-delay case involving its Cephalon subsidiary. Drug wholesalers and retailers accused the company of paying generic drug makers to delay marketing a generic version of Provigil. The settlement is the largest in a pay-for-delay case.

The FDA has released new guidance that will make it easier for drug companies to submit promotional materials to the Office of Prescription Drug Promotion (OPDP). Currently, companies are required to submit promotional pieces through a paper-based process, using form FDA-2253. The new guidance offers instructions for submitting promotional materials using the FDA’s electronic common technical document (eCTD). The use of eCTD was mandated in the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act. According to the guidance, in two years, all promotional materials must be submitted electronically.

They don’t have a shrubbery, but they would still like safe harbor. The National Infusion Care Association (NICA) has issued a paper arguing that OIG’s position stating that co-payment coupons and other financial assistance runs afoul of the Anti-kickback Statute (AKS) should not apply to specialty biologics for which there is no generic available. The OIG issued a report saying the coupons could be problematic under the AKS if they entice a patient to purchase a drug that is paid for by the government. NICA says while well intentioned, the position is really only valid if there is a generic alternative available for a specific drug. The organization claims that for many specialty biologics, no such alternative exists, and they worry that patients on government programs could be left with few treatment options if they are not able to accept co-payment coupons offered by manufacturers. NICA would like to see CMS, HHS, OIG and others in the government create a safe harbor allowing those on government programs to participate in co-payment programs if there is no generic alternative.

It may not have had the same drama as the process for determining if someone is a witch, but a circuit court has rejected claims against Medtronic over its off-label promotion of a medical device. The company was sued by an Oklahoma woman who said her physician implanted the product, Infuse, in a manner that was different than the FDA-approved approach. The woman said her doctor was urged to by a Medtronic representative to use the particular approach, and that the company had violated state tort laws. The court said her claims either did not have sufficient proof or were pre-empted by federal law.

Several states will soon be asking drug companies to bring out their drug costs. Massachusetts, North Carolina and Pennsylvania are the latest states to introduce legislation requiring manufacturers to disclose the costs and pricing information associated with expensive drugs. The Massachusetts’s bill will impose a limit on what a company can charge if the state determines the price of a drug is “significantly high.” If that bill is passed, the state will develop a list of drugs for which reporting is required. Companies will have to report costs related to production, research and development, and marketing. North Carolina’s law will require disclosure reports on all drugs sold in the state, and like Massachusetts, the production, research and marketing costs will have to be reported. Pennsylvania’s law will require disclosure reports for drugs with an average wholesale price of $5,000.00 or more, annually or per treatment. The Pennsylvania bill allows insurance companies and state programs to not cover a drug if the manufacturer has not filed a transparency report with the state.

With that, our tale for this week has nearly ended dear readers. We leave you with the reminder that many knights prefer accessing up-to-date compliance training whilst jousting about on horseback rather than hoping for a strong wireless connection over a mug of mead at the local tavern. The PharmaCertify™ suite of compliance-focused training solutions offers that training where your knights need it most – beyond the round table and at their fingertips.

Farewell for now dear friends.

Week in Review, December 10, 2014

The Serious Fraud Office gains its first conviction under the U.K. Bribery Act, Sanofi is charged with kickback violations, and CMS unveils new tools and user guides in the Open Payments system.

Well, we’re smack dab in the middle of it now. There’s no escaping the mire, so just give in and go with the flow. The Christmas shopping season is in full swing. Daily Doorbuster specials, circling the mall parking lot repeatedly looking for a space to park…yes, the joys of the season are upon us. As you lick your wounds from another weekend of retail madness and mayhem, we offer a brief respite, with this week’s Compliance News in Review.

Gift giving is certainly a joy of this season, but you don’t want it to land you on the naughty list during an FCPA investigation. This list of ten tips to consider when giving business gifts can help keep a company on the nice list. Tips include making sure the gift is permitted under the local law where the recipients is based and recording gifts routinely in company books and records.

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has tied a bow around its first conviction under the U.K. Bribery Act. Two individuals were found guilty in a case that involved the sale of biofuel investment interests to U.K. investors. The defendants were found to have created fake invoices that allowed them to collect large commissions from the investors. Legal experts say the case makes it clear that the SFO will pursue individuals for private sector bribery.

Sanofi, its former CEO, and several other executives have been accused of overfilling the stockings of doctors, pharmacists and hospitals. A whistleblower suit, filed by a former Sanofi paralegal, claims she was fired when she raised concerns over several contracts that paid consultants to pass along kickbacks to doctors, pharmacies and hospitals. The kickbacks were allegedly offered in return for prescribing or purchasing the company’s diabetes drug. Former CEO, Chris Viehbacher said the accusations are “entirely baseless and are categorically false.” The company says it will vigorously defend the suit.

AstraZeneca and Ranbaxy won’t need to return the present they received in a pay-for-delay case. A jury decided that a deal between the two companies, which delayed a generic version of Nexium, was large and unjustified, but was not anticompetitive. A Ranbaxy spokesperson stated “the jury understood the facts of the case and was not swayed by wishful thinking on the part of the plaintiffs.”

CMS donned the Santa cap as it handed out several “gifts” last week for Open Payments users. The agency released an improved physician and manufacturer search tool, updated physician lists and revised user guides. CMS also announced it would soon provide reference information for the 2014 program year, including an overview of the timeline and updates on system enhancements.

If new commercial compliance training is on your holiday wish list, PharmaCertify™ from NXLevel Solutions, offers updated training on critical topics like global transparency, the Anti-kickback Statute, on-label promotion, and the False Claims Act. To see a demo of our eLearning modules and mobile apps, contact Sean Murphy at

That’s all for this week folks. Stay safe out there, and we’ll see you back here next week!

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!

News Week in Review, November 25, 2013

The Sunshine Act’s payment reporting is still a worry for physicians, the FTC monitors its pay-for-delay deals closely and the U.K. Bribery Act fails to boost confidence of small and medium enterprises – all in time for Turkey Day.

Gobble, Gobble everyone…Thanksgiving is this Thursday! (and for our Canadian friends, we hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving back in October!) We at the News are excited and busy making those last minute trips to the grocery store to prepare for the feast with family and friends. Let’s face it though, sometimes all the togetherness can be a little “stressful,” and there’s no better way to deal with the stress than comedy. Laughter is the best medicine right? So, while we serve up the week’s main course, the News in Review, we’ll add a side of corny jokes to the plate for your Thanksgiving festivities – we’ve put the punch lines at the end of each paragraph, just to build the suspense.

Why did the turkey cross the road?

The Sunshine Act payment reporting continues to be a concern for physicians, particularly, the accuracy of the reported data and the ability to address inaccuracies within the 45 day dispute timeframe. How those payments appear to the public also weighs heavily on physicians’ minds and could lead to changes in how they interact with the industry.  According to HealthLeaders Media author, Greg Freeman, concern over having their name associated with industry payments may cause physicians to limit their consulting or speaking engagements.

It was the chicken’s day off of course.

If April showers bring May flowers, what do May flowers bring?

Targeting pay-for-delay deals will continue to be a top priority for the Federal Trade Commission, according to FTC Competition Bureau Chairwoman Deborah Feinstein. The agency has two pay-for-delay cases currently in litigation and Ms. Feinstein says it will continue to monitor filings submitted under the Medicare Prescription Drug Improvement and Modernization Act.

Pilgrims (okay, we admit it that “May flowers” pun is best delivered through the spoken word and falls apart when written).

Why do turkeys gobble?

The Drug Quality and Security Act received its senatorial stamp of approval last week and has been sent to the President for his signature. The bill was created to clarify the law around drug compounding and compounding pharmacies. It includes a drug track and trace requirement to address the issue of counterfeit drugs entering the marketplace. Beginning January 1, 2015, manufacturers and distributors that transfer ownership of products will have to provide a document showing the ownership trail of the product.

Because they never learned table manners.

What kind of music did the pilgrims listen to?

More than half of accountants surveyed by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) agree with the statement that the U.K. Bribery Act has failed to increase the confidence of small and medium enterprises. Only 17% percent of the respondents say the U.K. Bribery Act has given confidence to small and medium enterprises to resolve corrupt practices. While 48% say small and medium enterprises are likely to face corruption risks overseas, only 43% say anti-bribery is something they consider when looking at overseas business opportunities.

Plymouth Rock.

What is the best thing to put into a pie?

Louisiana’s Attorney General announced an $88 million settlement with 25 pharmaceutical companies over allegations of overcharged state Medicaid system. The settlement brings a 2010 case involving 109 manufacturers to a close. Total recoveries in the case were $238 million. The companies were accused of inflating Average Wholesale Price, violating the Louisiana Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Act and violating the state’s Medical Assistance Programs Integrity Law.

Your teeth!

Well that brings us to the end of this week’s News Week in Review and thankfully, the end of our lame jokes. Happy Thanksgiving everyone! As always, we’re grateful that you’ve taken a few minutes of your time to read our weekly review.

See you right back here next week!

News Week in Review, October 14, 2013

An industry watchdog group raises concerns about pay-for-play, the Supreme Court considers medical devices, one company claims its trade secrets were sent overseas and a critique of off-label promotion is, well, criticized.

“In fourteen-hundred and ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue”…certainly one of the more effective pneumonic devices from our younger days. So it is that today we celebrate the journey that would lead Mr. Columbus to “discover” the Americas. Unless of course you’re Canadian, in which case…Happy Thanksgiving! There is much to celebrate in North America today, but before you dig into the turkey and stuffing or take advantage of the Columbus Day sales at the local mattress emporium (nothing says “woo hoo, America was discovered!” like a new mattress), we set sail with this week’s News Week in Review.

The discovery of emails about meetings between government regulators and industry executives has raised concerns about the relationship between the two groups. The emails reveal that since 2002, pharmaceutical companies paid their way into the IMMPACT (an organization dedicated to improving clinical trials for new pain treatments) meeting, where they were able to discuss clinical trial procedures with regulators. The industry watchdog group, Public Citizen, says this raises concerns of a pay-for-play arrangement, in which drug companies could buy access to regulators, other health officials and academics. One of the founders of IMMPACT acknowledged that the email messages could appear problematic on the surface, but no one has complained about pharmaceutical companies paying for representatives to attend the meetings.

The U.S. Supreme Court could be exploring a case of a patient’s ability to sue a device maker under state laws when a problem with an FDA-approved device occurs. The case involves an Arizona man who has sued Medtronic over a pain medication pump which he claims left him paralyzed. At the time the man was using the pump, the device was approved by the FDA. The device was eventually removed from the market following a warning from the FDA about Medtronic’s failure to disclose all the risks. The Court has turned to the Obama Administration for an opinion on the matter.

A semi-retired Harvard doctor is suggesting that the Massachusetts legislature define a modest meal as one comparable to what one would receive at a hospital cafeteria. The doctor testified before the Committee of Public Health about a bill that would set a standard for a modest meal. He lamented the repeal of the existing meal ban and lectured about the so-called evils of pharmaceutical marketing.

Three former Lilly employees may be forced to walk the plank after they were indicted for handing over company trade secrets to a Chinese pharmaceutical company. According to the indictment, two of the employees emailed information about nine early-stage research projects to a third employee, who was also employed by the Chinese drug company. Lilly claims the company has a value of $55 million.

Fresenius, the maker of Propofol, ceased shipments of an anesthetic drug to Morrison-Dickson for several months, after the wholesaler accidently sent 20 vials of the drug to a Missouri prison for use in lethal injections. Fresenius will sell the drug to U.S. wholesalers only under the condition that they not sell it to prisons or jails. When company officials originally tried to reclaim the drug from the prison, they were told that decision would have to come from the state’s director of corrections or the governor. The state has agreed to return the vials.

In a case of the old world borrowing an idea from the new world, the U.K.’s Home Office is considering U.S. style whistleblowers awards in fraud, corruption and bribery cases. Currently, the U.K offers limited legal protections for employees who blow the whistle and the move is seen as one way to incentivize them. Some are concerned that the financial rewards will lead to bogus claims and raise questions about the credibility of a whistleblower as a witness.

A rehabilitation physician is trying to take the wind out of the sails of critics of prescribing drugs off label. Ford Vox, a physician at the Shepherd Center, responded to a recent article in the Washington Post about the number of off-label prescriptions written for patients covered by Medicare and Medicaid. Vox poked holes in the article’s assertions that off-label prescribing is inherently suspect, and that CMS has a responsibility to police physicians engaged in the practice. He notes that while focusing on one specific physician and drug, the article does not mention that the particular use is backed by research from 2006.

And so we end our exploration of all things compliance for this week. Fall has definitely arrived and as you map your compliance training curriculum for 2014, keep in mind that PharmaCertify™ offers the custom and off-the-shelf training solutions you need to help your crew navigate today’s murky compliance waters.

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!