A Preview of the 22nd Annual Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Ethics and Compliance Congress

Visit the PharmaCertify booth at the Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Compliance Congress to see demos of our newest modules, reinforcement programs, and games!

Here we are, over a year after Covid completely upended our lives, personally and professionally, and we are still attending compliance conferences virtually. The Pharmaceutical Compliance Forum (PCF) opted for a virtual forum for the Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Ethics and Compliance Congress again this year and a quick review of the agenda highlights the notion that no matter the format, this conference consistently presents the information any compliance professional needs to help reduce risk. Here are my pre-conference thoughts on the sessions of interest, particularly those that affect compliance training curricula.

Day 1: Tuesday, November 2, 2021

In an interesting twist on the standard agenda format, PCF opens the congress this year with a series of concurrent mini summits covering a range of topics. My standard advice applies; divide and conquer. If you’re attending with colleagues, plan to attend different presentations, then share notes. Even if you attend on your own, find a friend in one of the early networking sessions and don’t be shy about asking if they are interested in taking the same note sharing tact. It’s a veritable plethora of content to wade through…and that is definitely a good thing.

Mini Summit 1: Enforcement Action Updates

I tend to include most of the enforcement panels in these preview blog posts simply because they’re rare opportunities to hear the experiences and advice of those on the forefront of actions and settlements, including topics that trainers should be concerned about. This conference is no exception. Panelists include Assistant US Attorneys from the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and the District of Massachusetts, as well as the Assistant Director of Civil Division/Fraud Section of the Department of Justice.

Mini Summit 3: Evolutions of Investigations

The title for this one caught my eye and moved to the top of my priority list. Investigations have formed the foundation for the industry’s focus throughout the growth of the compliance industry and they certainly influence the training that has evolved from the early days of PowerPoint presentations to the multi-layered foundational and reinforcement training that is now considered the vanguard of effective eLearning.

Transition Breaks and Lunch

I include the breaks in this “must attend” list of sessions because they offer the best opportunity to interact directly with peers, vendors, and consultants. These are the people who not only provide crucial funding for the conference but also offer the products and services you need to help reduce risk and build a stronger culture of ethics and compliance. We’re here and we’re anxious to meet you. So, I invite you to check in with these critical vendors in the exhibit hall.

Mini Summit 5: DOJ/SEC FCPA Panel

Please see my thoughts on Mini Summit 1. The same apply to this session focused on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Mini Summit 7: Annual Medical Device Update

Hooray for Medical Device! It’s in the conference name and it is rightfully in the agenda. While many of the topics listed throughout the agenda apply to medical device companies, concerns and challenges unique to the industry abound. The panel includes chief compliance officers from Medtronic, ZOLL Medical, and Olympus, as well as a representative from AdvaMed and I’m looking forward to hearing how they address the issues associated with the rising number of recent medical device settlements.

Open Forum with PhRMA and AdvaMed

The Senior Assistant General Counsel for PhRMA and Vice President, Global Compliance and Governance for AdvaMed will be available in an open forum, hopefully ready and willing to take your questions. Enough said.

The Pivotal Role of CCO’s in Fostering a Strong Culture of Inclusion, Trust, and Psychological Safety

After a break, the conference switches from concurrent summits to this important and timely general session. I’m especially intrigued by the phrase “psychological safety” in the title, and I look forward to hearing whether inclusion and diversity are included in the discussion.

“Evolving our Operating Model” Discussion Breakouts

For the final session of the day, attendees choose one of three titles: 1. Managing Remote Teams, 2. Scope and Structure of the Compliance Function, and 3. Ethics and Compliance – The Road Ahead. To borrow a cliché, Covid has clearly changed the world and our industry for the long term. While the same core principles apply no matter how business is conducted and even how training is launched, compliance challenges shift and grow with the advent of virtual interactions. That’s why numbers 1 and 3 are of particular interest to me.

Day 2: Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Day 2 kicks off with more mini summits and interactive workshops followed by the opening plenary session at 1:00 pm.

INTERACTIVE WORKSHOP III: Hot Topics in Medical Device

Medical device is back with its own workshop and that is definitely a good thing! I look forward to hearing what topics Sujata Dayal from Medline Industries and Dana McMahon of Stryker include in their presentation and comparing the list to what we cover in our off-the-shelf and custom training solutions we provide for our medical device clients.

MINI SUMMIT 15: Optimize Your Compliance Training: A Practical Approach to the DOJ’s Guidance

I confess, since my colleague, Dan O’Connor, is the moderator on this one, I may be a bit biased. But I’ve seen the initial outline for the presentation and trust me, you don’t want to miss it. Dan, and his panel of compliance professionals will delve into the landmark guidance from the DOJ and present a practical framework for building and managing a continuous curriculum of training that will help your organization align with its principles.

MINI SUMMIT 16: Patient Assistance Programs

Speaking of hot topics! Regulators are paying attention to your patient programs, and you should be doing the same. So, you don’t want to miss this opportunity to hear Noor Haq from Amgen and Kevin Ryan from ACADIA share their experiences and tips for managing and minimizing the compliance concerns associated with PAPs. By the way, here at PharmaCertify, we’ve developed a new customizable eLearning module covering patient programs. Visit our website to see a description.

INTERACTIVE WORKSHOP 4: How to Establish Risk Tolerance in an Emerging Organization

If your company faces the challenges unique to those that fall into the emerging category, this holds the potential to be one of the most valuable sessions on the docket. Terra Buckley, who is now the Vice President of Compliance Advisory Services, is a seasoned industry professional, and frankly, one of the most dynamic presenters I have seen on all topics related to life sciences. Terra will be joined by David Ryan, Chief Compliance Officer at Epizyme.

Opening Plenary Session

Several presentations are listed as part of the plenary session that runs from 1:00 pm to the close of the day’s agenda at 5:30 pm.  

Keynote: OIG Update

Following the fireside chat with Giovanni Caforio, MD, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at Bristol Myers Squibb, Mary Riordan, Senior Counsel, Office of Counsel to the Inspector General at OIG will deliver her annual update on the agency’s enforcement actions and workplan. It’s always a highly anticipated presentation and for good reason. Her slides and notes form a solid foundation for where companies should be focusing their efforts and their resources in the coming year. 

Response to OIG Special Fraud Alert and PhRMA and AdvaMed Code Update

The conference organizers have combined these three weighty topics into one presentation, and I am anxious to hear the panel of industry professionals and representatives from PhRMA and AdvaMed delve into the important details of each one. The Fraud Alert and the updates to the two codes led to significant changes in the content for our off-the-shelf and custom training courses at PharmaCertify, and we’re developing reinforcement components like a brief explanatory video describing the PhRMA Code to roll out in conjunction with the updated foundational module.

Annual Chief Compliance Officer Fireside Chat

Day 2 ends with an impressive lineup of chief compliance officers from pharma and med device, representing companies of different sizes and therapeutic focus. Ann Beasley, from Zai Lab, Shefari Kothari from Novartis, Angela Main of Zimmer Biomet, Kristin Rand from Moderna, and Latarsha Stewart from Servier Pharmaceuticals are sure to add a compelling exclamation point to a day chock full of critical compliance experiences and advice.

Day 3: Thursday, November 4, 2021

Following the form of the first two days, Day 3 begins with a series of MINI SUMMIT 21: Interactions with Health Care Professionals

Interactions with healthcare professionals are the foundation upon which solid compliance practices, principles, and training must be established. Whether those interactions are in person or virtual, they are fraught with risk, yet when they are conducted in a compliant manner, they continue to form the core of what makes the life sciences industry what it strives to be; a noble group whose primary focus is helping its customers improve the lives of patients. That’s why I’m looking forward to hearing the best practices for those interactions espoused by a panel that includes representatives from both the pharmaceutical and medical device industries.

INTERACTIVE WORKSHOP V: Evolution of Ethics & Compliance

We have been hearing about the industry shifting away from “a culture of compliance” to an “ethics-based” approach to compliance for a few years now. While the notion is a laudable one, the practicality of that migration is more challenging in such a risk-based environment. I am eager to hear the presenters’ tips for executing that evolution, including how they carry it through to their compliance training.

MINI SUMMIT 25: Trends in FDA Advertising/Promotion Enforcement: Know the Risk Areas

Any session with “Know the Risk Areas” as part of its title gets my attention and when the focus is on advertising and promotion it’s no exception.

Closing Plenary Session

The afternoon on Day 3 includes a plenary session with a series of interviews and sessions. After a keynote interview with Tim Wright, the Chief Executive Officer from MiMedx and a fireside chat with Rady Johnson from Pfizer, Catherine Gray from the FDA presents the annual FDA Keynote. Like the OIG Update from Mary Riordan, the review of the FDA’s workplan is worthwhile and important. And the AUSA Roundtable offers another valuable view of current trends and hot topics from those on the regulatory side of the table.

Day 4: Friday, November 5, 2021

Industry Only Best Practices Think Tank  

I’d like to wax poetic about this, the final session of the conference, but I remain relegated to the figurative “kids’ table” of vendors and exhibitors who can only wonder what juicy nuggets of compelling and important information those insiders are discussing behind their locked virtual walls. In the meantime, I continue to stare at my email inbox, awaiting my golden ticket. Here’s a suggestion for the PCF team: perhaps an outline of the ideas and suggestions discussed during the session could be shared with all attendees after the conference concludes.

Summary and Complimentary Conference Registration

That’s quite a bit of content for any conference, so kudos to PCF and the organizers for creating such a hefty agenda and gathering so many impressive presenters. And I’ve only scratched the surface of the list of mini summits and plenary sessions. If you’re attending the conference, I invite you to stop by the PharmaCertify booth to see demos of our newest compliance training programs, workshops, and games. You don’t want to miss our new Compliance JEOPARDY!® game, the only officially licensed one on the market!

If you haven’t yet registered, we can help! As a conference sponsor, we are offering a limited number of complimentary registrations. Just contact my colleague, Dan O’Connor, at doconnor@nxlevelsolutions.com to take advantage of the opportunity to learn from your peers and fellow compliance professionals. You don’t want to miss it.

Thanks for reading and I will see you online for the conference!

Sean Murphy
PharmaCertify by NXLevel Solutions

Key Training Takeaways from the 2021 Virtual Compliance Congress for Specialty Products

Although Informa’s virtual 2021 Compliance Congress for Specialty Products was targeted to those companies that focus on rare and orphan diseases, many of the key messages shared by the panel of industry professionals and regulators were applicable to compliance professionals from companies of all shapes and sizes.

Here are some of the key takeaways from the three-day conference, with my thoughts on what those messages mean for your compliance training program:

To say the pandemic has changed the way life sciences conducts business may be cliché, but based on the presentations in this conference as well as the Pharmaceutical Compliance Congress in April, at least some of those changes are here to stay. Change begats an increased volume of risk, and in the opening session, Keeping Up with Industry Trends — Top Compliance Concerns Facing CCOs, presenters emphasized the need for risk assessments now more than ever.

1. The current pace of change highlights the importance of risk assessment.

You need to take the same approach with your training curriculum. What are the key risk areas based on your company’s products? How often are the topics relevant to your product covered in live and online training? Are key areas addressed with reinforcement and just-in-time training? We call this process the Compliance Curriculum Analysis Process (CCAP). In fact, I wrote about how the process can improve outcomes for the publication, Life Science Compliance Update, back in 2017. Thanks to the pandemic, and increased governmental scrutiny, it’s even more relevant today.  

2. Choose the right company when making a career move.

While most presentations in compliance conferences are focused on the best practices and concepts necessary to optimize a program, hearing one of the presenters stress the need to be aware of culture before joining a company was refreshing and enlightening. As the presenter pointed out, you cannot be shy about exploring whether the company makes compliance meaningful and if compliance is valued – before you accept a job offer.

Don’t forget to explore their approach to training as well. Are they regularly rolling out the kind of creative training and microlearning that helps flatten the “forgetting curve” my colleague Dan O’Connor, Erica Powers of Sage Therapeutics, and Karen Snyder of Ironwood Pharmaceuticals addressed in the Optimize Your Compliance Training: A Practical Approach to the DOJ’s Guidance session? (By the way, you really should see the slides from that presentation and the examples of fun an innovative training your peers are using to help reduce risk. Drop me an email at smurphy@nxlevelsolutions.com if you’re interested.)

3. Equip leaders with consistent and proper messaging.

In a twist on the familiar “tone-from-top” mantra, another presenter in the opening CCO session stressed the need for the compliance department to take the lead in providing leadership with the proper messaging needed to reinforce that tone. As he said, “consistency is key as you cascade communication across your program.” It applies to training as well. Not only does the C-Suite need to be trained in the same concepts and policies as employees, they, and the management team, need to be repeatedly reminded of the need for a seamless message. As we’ve been told in just about every conference over the last five years, you need to earn a “seat at the table” with leadership. Once you’re in that proverbial seat, helping them espouse the messaging necessary to keep your program consistent is the key to keeping it meaningful.

4. Don’t decline meetings during the pandemic.

During the Compliance During a Pandemic session, presenters spoke at length about the importance of open lines of communication and the need to make every attempt to meet with business colleagues whenever possible. The businesses and field employees need to know you are accessible when they have questions. As another presenter chimed in, “you need to constantly make sure they know who to go to.”  That concept extends to your training curriculum. Does your training include surveys and other feedback mechanisms? Do you encourage outreach in your eLearning? Creating and nurturing an open dialogue can only make your training more effective, during the pandemic and beyond.

5. If you’re going to have live speaker programs, you need to be wary of red flags.

That’s according to one presenter during the prosecutors’ presentation on high-priority risk areas. As he put it, the very fact that HHS even issued the Special Fraud Alert on Speaker Programs should be interpreted as a warning. While multiple presenters in other sessions suggested their companies will move to hybrid models with virtual and live programs, the opinions of the prosecutors were clear: expect the OIG’s focus to be on the live versions.

Managing Speaker Program Risk is one of the newly updated Compliance Foundations eLearning modules available from PharmaCertify. It covers the critical content your reps need to understand to remain in compliance, and like all our modules, it’s easily customized with your policies and content! Contact me to see a demo.

6. Not every patient advocacy organization is the size of the American Diabetes Association.

Day 2 kicked off with the Optimize and Mitigate Risk within Patient Interactions and Support Programs. Presenters noted the trickiness in dealing with advocacy groups in particular – not all the groups will be large and experienced enough to understand the potential pitfalls of compliance. You may need to educate them on the guidelines and principles, and that can be a challenge, especially on the delivery front since outside learners often don’t have access to your internal learning management system.

PharmaCertify can help with the Access LMS platform. Access LMS is a cloud-based, affordable alternative for reaching outside vendors and organizations with your compliance training. It’s simple, it’s easy-to-use, and it won’t break your budget. Contact my colleague, Dan O’Connor, at doconnor@nxlevelsolutions.com to see a demo. 

7. Dig deep into the weeds with MSL/commercial training.

The relationship between the medical and commercial divisions is nuanced and fraught with risk. During the Compliant Frameworks for Medical Affairs and Commercial Interactions session, a presenter whose company recently launched its first product reinforced the need for detail. While medical/commercial interactions have always been a pain point for her, she clarifies gray areas on topics such as “the rules for visiting HCPs together,” with what she calls “ways of working documents that clarify what each group can do and why.

At PharmaCertify, we take the same approach with our MSLs and Sales Reps: Understanding the Divide Compliance Foundations module. The content is designed to cover each role in a manner that helps reps and MSLs understand their own rules as well as those of the other group. I’d be happy to send you a content outline.

8. Follow the money. The prosecutors are.

It’s no secret that the government is scouring Open Payments data. And they are following the trail of money flowing to HCPs. During the enforcement panel, one prosecutor bluntly stated, “if you pay a provider hundreds of thousands of dollars, we are going to be looking at it.”

Reps need to consistently be reminded of HCP spend limits and incorporating microlearning components like on-going assessments and quizzes into your curriculum is key to ensuring those numbers are top of mind. We’d welcome the opportunity to show you how it works.    

Summary

Kudos to Informa and all presenters for putting forth a valuable and important learning experience despite the challenges that always accompany a virtual event. The pandemic has changed the way in which we share ideas, best practices, and personal experiences as much as it has changed the industry in general. As the world inches back to a more “normal” approach to information sharing, I anxiously await the day when we can again meet in person in a conference exhibit hall and exchange ideas for how you can reduce risk and build a stronger ethical culture through training.

Thanks for reading!

Sean Murphy
PharmaCertify by NXLevel Solutions

A Preview of the 2021 Pharmaceutical Compliance Congress…As Seen Through My Compliance Training Glasses

pcc2021In what could be Informa’s final “virtual” compliance congress (fingers crossed), the spring kickoff Pharmaceutical Compliance Congress offers a plethora (sweet…I got to use “plethora!”) of industry leaders and government representatives covering oft discussed, yet still relevant topics, mixed with new and timely entries to the agenda (e.g., transparency tips for 2021, advancing virtual interactions, applying behavioral science to drive an ethical culture).

From a compliance training standpoint, the general sessions and breakout workshops at PCC offer attendees the rare opportunity to evaluate their own programs and curricula against the industry standards espoused by the well-known panelists and presenters. The bottom line: if you want to keep up with your peers, you really should try to be there. We can help make that happen with a sponsor discount on the regular registration rate. Just email me for the details, get yourself registered, and get ready to soak up three days of the information you need to keep your training meaningful.

I’ve perused the conference agenda with an eye toward what each session could mean for you in general and for your 2021 training plan and here are a few of the sessions that jump off the screen:

Day 1: Tuesday, April 27

Refill your coffee cup before 10:15 am, and make sure the rest of your morning/early afternoon calendar is clear because after the chairperson’s welcome, Informa comes out of the gate swinging with three general sessions sure to have you glued to your computer screen.

The fun begins at 10:50 with James Stansel, Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary at PhRMA presenting the Current Snapshot of Affairs Coming Off an Unprecedented and Politically Charged Year. Could there be a more aptly titled presentation to kick off a life sciences compliance conference after what we went though over the last 12 months?

The content you really don’t want to miss starts flowing with the Fireside Chat with CCOs – Top 10 Items on Their Radar and Why They Should Be on Yours presentation from 11:00 – 12:00. Who doesn’t love a good top ten list? (except of course David Letterman since we are just “borrowing” the concept from him.) Other than maybe “best one hit wonder music acts,” I can’t think of a topic sure to have the audience around the virtual office water cooler buzzing for weeks to follow. And, let’s face it, once someone mentions Come on Eileen by Dexys Midnight Runners, the one hit wonder list just runs out of staying power, while that OIG Speaker Programs Fraud Alert is going to be on the industry’s mind for months to follow. Toora loora toora loo rye ay!

We break for lunch at 12:00 – but as importantly, you have plenty of time to visit the virtual Exhibit Hall and learn about the various products and services available from the vendors. We’ll be at the PharmaCertify booth with demos of our newest eLearning modules and other training tools to help you manage your company’s risk and build a stronger culture of ethics and compliance. We’re creating some cool (and effective) stuff that you really need to see. I implore you…come see us lonely vendors!

File the third general session, the Keynote Enforcement Panel, in the “oft discussed but still quite relevant” category. The panelists here represent the metaphorical heart of the PCC batting order, with an acting U.S. Attorney and a First Assistant U.S. Attorney being joined by a representative of the DOJ and another from a private law firm to hold court (okay, am I pushing the euphemisms too far?) over the audience with the latest list of topics expected to be at the forefront of enforcement this year.

At 3:00 pm on Day 1, the agenda is divided into four simultaneous working groups. All of them look compelling for different reasons, but if transparency training is on your 2021 radar, I suggest Trends from 2020 Transparency Reporting and Tips for 2021 with Terra Buckley and Chelsea Ott, both of Medpro Advisory Services. Terra is one of the best industry presenters I have heard on the life sciences compliance circuit and her recent move to head up the advisory services for Medpro is quite a coup for the company and quite a bonus for its clients. Terra knows the ins and outs of transparency (and all things compliance, for that matter) and she is sure to leave you with actionable suggestions for optimizing your program.  

At the same time, I can make an equally compelling case for the Advancing Digital and Virtual Interactions session, or the Optimizing Compliant Patient Interactions session based on recent headlines and settlements as well as the compliance star-studded panel scheduled for each one. Since the sessions are simultaneous, teaming up with colleagues and taking copious notes to share later is your best option to ensure appropriate coverage. That’s my plan, and if you’re looking for a “study buddy,” I’m happy to join forces. Don’t be shy, call me!

Day 2: Wednesday, April 28

After the annual year in review video presentation, the OIG fraud alert makes its first scheduled appearance at 10:30 on Day 2 with the Analysis of OIG Special Fraud Alert on Speaker Programs and Assessment of Future Activities. Considering the buzz it has stirred up in the industry since its release, don’t expect this to be the first, or final, reference to the document during the conference. The FDA Office of Prescription Drug Promotion (OPDP) and Center for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) will follow at 11:05 and 11:35 respectively, in two sessions that typically prove to be helpful peaks into each agency’s workplan and focal points for the upcoming year.

Then at 12:00, it’s back to the Exhibit Hall. We’ll be waiting in case you didn’t get the chance to stop by on Day 1. After all, look at this top-notch lineup of sponsors and exhibitors ready to hear about your challenges and help you meet you goals!

During the afternoon, the 1:40 session, titled, Former Prosecutor Panel – Answers and Insights from Industry’s Trusted Advisors should offer insight, tips, and suggestions from a panel with unique insight into both sides of the regulatory table. And the CCO & GC Luminary Panel – Leading Strategies to Advance the Business and Accelerate Innovation, scheduled for 3:00, features a list of well-known and respected professionals, including Beth Holly from Regeneron.

At 4:00, attendees again break into one of four simultaneous “roundtable exchanges” to end the day. Depending on your priorities and business profile, you may not want to miss Table Talk A, Speaker Programs or Table Talk B, Insights for Emerging and Newly Commercial Companies, but I would be remiss to not recommend Table Talk D, Creative Compliance Training Solutions. My colleague, Dan O’Connor, will be joined by Jackie Parris of Incyte and Jen Anderson of Vertex to delve into how each company is using innovative training solutions to reduce risk across their companies. You don’t want to miss the demos in this one, so remember to “divide and conquer” across all the sessions if necessary.

Day 3: Thursday, April 29

The final day of the conference features a global tilt, beginning with the IFPMA Spotlight – Deep Dive into Evolving International Best Practices at 9:30, followed by Global Payments and FMV at 10:05, and the EU e-Privacy Directive and the Impact on Monitoring Digital Communications and Social Channels (that one is a mouthful, isn’t it?) at 10:40. Whether your company has a global footprint or not, the life sciences world is a small one and we’ve come a long way since the days of the FCPA being the primary driver of worldwide regulation, best practices, and ultimately, your training curriculum.  

The day ends with a one-hour Diversity and Inclusion Summit at 12:00. It’s a timely and important (if not long overdue) way to close the conference and I will be listening for ideas on how the panelists integrate diversity concepts and messaging into their compliance training.

Summary

Hopefully, the next time I write a compliance congress preview (Informa or PCF), it will be in anticipation of an upcoming live conference. As much as I appreciate the efforts of conference organizers to replicate the live experience virtually, frankly it can’t match the value of gathering in-person. For vendors and industry attendees alike, nothing replaces the insight available through face-to-face interactions.

That being said, Informa has created a compelling agenda for this year’s virtual version of the Pharmaceutical Compliance Congress with sessions applicable to both the new and seasoned life sciences compliance professional. Opportunities, such as this, to hear from esteemed leaders in the field and regulators are rare, and anyone interested in hearing up-to-date data, tips, and suggestions for modernizing and maintaining an effective compliance program should make every effort to attend. Again, we can help with that.

Thanks for reading. I will see you online at the Congress!

Sean Murphy
PharmaCertify by NXLevel Solutions

Ten Training Takeaways from the 21st Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Ethics and Compliance Congress

The Pharmaceutical Compliance Forum (PCF) went to great lengths to replicate the experience of a live conference in this year’s virtual Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Ethics and Compliance Congress. The virtual conference platform featured presentation rooms and realistic exhibit halls that made navigating the user interface simple and logical.

Organizers took advantage of the virtual nature of the conference to maximize the amount of content available through live presentations, along with a plethora of recorded presentations available for viewing any time. In fact, if you attended the conference, the sessions will remain available to you for up to six months – so don’t be shy about logging back in and catching up on what you missed.

I’ve done just that over the last few weeks and in the spirit of the PharmaCertify mission to help you reduce risk and strengthen the compliance culture in your company, here are ten key conference takeaways to help you build a more effective training curriculum.

  1. Meals, meals, meals.
    How to handle meals during the pandemic (in speaker programs and otherwise) continues to be a common refrain during conferences. Speakers from the pharmaceutical and medical device industries touched on the topic, with the conversation mostly focused on the importance of sending meals only to HCPs’ offices and hospitals, and not to their homes. PhRMA’s guidance released earlier this year is a good starting point for updating policies and building new training: https://phrma.org/-/media/Project/PhRMA/PhRMA-Org/PhRMA-Org/PDF/P-R/PhRMA-Code-Section-2.pdf. Clearly if you have not addressed the way in which meals should be provided in your policies and subsequently in your training, you should.
  2. Remember the changes to the Sunshine Act.
    Speaking of updates, attendees were reminded that the changes to the Sunshine Act go into effect in January. If your core Sunshine Act training hasn’t been updated, you need to make your learners aware of the changes in the list of covered recipients and the nature of payment categories…quickly!
  3. Be aggressive.
    Throughout the conference, government regulators agreed that they tend to view companies that have a robust compliance program more favorably during investigations. Or, as one panelist in the AUSA Roundtable put it, “if you’ve properly dealt with the problem, we’re probably going to go away.” That extends to your compliance curriculum. So not only is a “check the box” approach to training a bad idea in terms of learning, it also isn’t going to impress regulators when they come calling. A modern and effective curriculum needs to be evaluated against your company’s risk, and it needs to be supplemented with regular nuggets of training spread across the learner’s timeline.
  4. Keep the communication flowing.
    An effective curriculum doesn’t end with the deployment of training. The importance of on-going communication during the pandemic was reiterated in multiple sessions throughout the conference. Presenters focused on how the sudden shift in the way business is conducted has forced them to think about how they stay in touch with leadership and the field. The need to think differently has clearly given birth to ideas and best practices that will continue post-pandemic. Whether designating “compliance liaisons” from the businesses to bring ideas and questions back from the field, or rotating people from the businesses through the compliance department, presenters are finding creative methods to ensure compliance stays top of mind for the long term.
  5. Patient support and speaker programs are still in focus.
    Gregory Demske and Mary Riordan reminded attendees that the OIG’s focus is still squarely on patient support programs and speaker programs. And interestingly, Demske encouraged viewers to ask themselves if they really need to go back to in-person speaker programs after the pandemic and warned that the agency is going to continue to look carefully at “payments to prescribers that are under the guise of speaker programs.” Recent CIAs focused on speaker programs and patient support programs are a good starting point as you evaluate your training plan.
  6. Pay attention to social media.
    According to presenters in the social media mini summit, 70-80% of patients get information from online resources. While that’s not a surprising number in our digital age, it’s concerning in light of the dearth of guidance from federal agencies. Presenters emphasized the need to stay abreast of the emerging social media platforms and evaluate training plans in context of the limited social media guidance that is available. And the risks of social media aren’t limited to the pharmaceutical industry. In the Medical Device Roundtable session, one presenter warned that cutting-edge technology often can lead to representatives being overly enthusiastic on social media. It’s a scary, changing world online, and as a compliance professional, you need to be continually addressing it in targeted training.
  7. Customize training for company-specific risk.
    I may be biased, but the discussion about the risk-frequency framework by Dan O’Connor in the State-of-the-Art Compliance Training mini summit is “can’t miss” conference viewing. If you did miss it, let me know, and I will be happy to coordinate a brief review of the concept with Dan. The framework is a great starting point for evaluating the appropriate mix of training based on the riskiness of the activity and the frequency at which that activity occurs. Ours is not a one-style-of-training fits all world and the framework is a good way to look at your curriculum and make adjustments in the tools and techniques to address risk accordingly.
  8. Emphasize a culture of integrity, not just compliance.
    Those of us who have been working in life sciences compliance for a long time know the industry has been touting the need to shift away from a rules-based approach to compliance to one based on values and ethics. That shift is in process and was best summarized by a presenter in the Integrating Ethics and Compliance session when she said she finds the word “compliance” to be limiting and she prefers the word “integrity” to emphasize that how one does something is as important as what someone does. Or, as another presenter in the same session said, “now is the time to create a culture where people are comfortable speaking up.” That’s the language of a values-based approach and it certainly seems like it’s here to stay. Does your training incorporate these themes?
  9. The core rules still apply.
    While COVID-19 has changed the way in which business is conducted and how interactions occur, the core principles of compliance still apply. In fact, as multiple regulators and industry professionals were quick to note, “COVID is not an excuse for non-compliance.” Some of the details may have changed, but speaker programs need to be monitored, speakers need to be trained, reps need to stay on-label, federal regulations still apply,  and state disclosure laws need to be followed.
  10. More risk is okay if you have a strong foundation to manage that risk.
    Many years ago, when I started working in compliance training, I could not have imagined someone being bold enough to publicly say more risk is okay. But there I was in the CCO Fireside Chat, when I heard a presenter confidently say, “striking a balance between the legal environment and business goals is key.” To my surprise, he followed up by saying, “and to help the business be more risk tolerant you need training that is sticky and impactful.” The assessment is an honest and refreshing one, and hearing the word “sticky” used in reference to compliance training brings music to the ears of someone who has been part of a team encouraging the industry to do that for 15 years. The future may be filled with more engaging and dynamic training after all.
  11. Thanks for reading!

    Sean Murphy
    PharmaCertify By NXLevel Solutions

Compliance Training Lessons from the 2020 Virtual Pharmaceutical Compliance Congress

Part 2: A Continued Focus on Speaker Programs and Patient Support Programs

This is the second in a series delving into compliance training lessons learned at the 2020 Virtual Pharmaceutical Compliance Congress. Before the sudden changes brought on by COVID-19, speaker programs and patient support programs were two of the hottest topics in the industry and the pandemic has only heightened the concern. Through live presentations and on-demand sessions available throughout the conference, regulatory officials and industry representatives offered suggestions for managing the programs.

Speaker Programs

During the Enforcement Deep Dive and the DOJ and SEC Insights sessions, panelists reviewed the recent settlements and CIAs related to speaker programs. The cases mostly focused on what one presenter referred to as the “hallmark red flags” he and his colleagues look for in an investigation: repeat speakers and attendees, speakers who were high-prescribing HCPs, alcohol being served, and less than adequate attendance. Alleged violations in the settlements were based on everything from the inappropriate fees paid to speakers and improper promotional activities at the programs, to some companies paying speakers for programs that never occurred.

While regulators provided the groundwork related to traditional topics like speaker criteria and compensation, and attendee management, industry professionals shared tips for effectively managing the programs during a pandemic. In the session titled, Operational Considerations for Speaker Programs During a Pandemic, presenters offered a list of considerations such as updating training on tracking and reporting attendance; adding up to an hour of prep time so all participants have the opportunity to get comfortable with using the technology; and reviewing existing HCP contracts and adjusting provisions for travel since travel to the programs is not currently required.

Not surprisingly, the practicality of providing meals during the pandemic was raised throughout the conference. During the DOJ Enforcement Trends Related to Speaker Programs on-demand session, the challenges with documenting and tracking consumption were raised as a unique risk associated with virtual programs. For example, “ensuring attendees stay for the educational component of a program,” and “providing meals in a way that accounts for COVID-19 related health and safety issues” are suddenly necessary considerations.

Virtual speaker programs raise challenges the industry has not had to consider before the pandemic. Presenters offered an important reminder as to why diligence to how these programs are executed is more critical than ever, by reminding the audience that “government agencies have made it clear they will scrutinize conduct…companies should still comply with codes of conduct and government regulations. There is no COVID-19 defense.”

Patient Support Programs

On the patient support program front, the emphasis in investigations is on what one presenter called “good evidence of bad motivation.” As with speaker programs, the fundamental rules continue to apply. For example, the programs cannot be used to influence a provider’s or patient’s medical decisions and patient privacy must always be protected. Grants and donations to foundations cannot be driven by sales and marketing, or as one presenter put it, “the commercial side should never determine how much goes to foundations.”

With patient foundations being a focus in recent CIAs, presenters during the Enforcement Snapshot and Best Practices Related to PAPs, Coupons and Foundations session covered the important requirements established in those settlements, including the need for a governance committee that is solely responsible for activities related to copay foundations; the importance of establishing an annual budget for donations to foundations; the requirement that donations must be selected using a risk-based approach and random sampling; and the need to be aware of state limitations on copay assistance, such as Massachusetts and California not permitting assistance when a generic is available.

Presenters also pointed out that settlements involving patient support programs have changed for one significant reason: the foundations have also been targeted and have entered into agreements with the government. As one presenter put it, “that means the foundations have skin in the game. Gone are the days when manufacturers called all the shots around contributions to foundations, program design, and compliance controls.”

The requirements detailed in recent settlements point to the need for updated policies and practices, and subsequently, updated training around patient support programs. Not only does core training need to be modified, a new approach is needed to ensure pull through on the significant changes.

A New Approach to Training

Clearly, the fundamental rules related to speaker programs and patient support programs have not changed and still need to be addressed in training, as they were before the onset of the pandemic. speaker programs and patient support programs continue to be high-risk activities. When they are not managed properly, companies face the potential for off-label promotion, false claims, and Anti-Kickback Statute violations, to name just a few. But the nuances of how these programs are executed are now in flux and require serious consideration in terms of content updates and delivery modalities.

Foundational training remains an important starting point. Dedicated training on speaker programs should still include core topics such as program logistics, audience requirements, speaker compensation and training, and answering off-label questions. And patient support program courses must continue to focus on areas such as protecting patient privacy, working with vendors, and working with patient assistance foundations.

Clearly, COVID-19 requires changes to how both types of programs are planned and executed. To ensure targeted employees stay in compliance a supplemental approach towards reinforcement may be appropriate. For example, mini modules covering the provision of meals should be considered to stress the details of updated policies. In addition, microlearning components in the form of mini-assessments, videos, and podcasts are a valuable way to increase the retention of new and updated policies as well as the foundational topics. And custom scenario-based training is an ideal format for highlighting aspects of policies that are particularly relevant to conducting these programs during the pandemic.

Increasing the retention of compliance training is more challenging than ever given the changes in which your field staff and other employees conduct business. The information shared during the Pharmaceutical Compliance Conference serves as a reminder that speaker programs and patient support programs continue to be high areas for risk and a focus of investigations. The onset of COVID-19 has complicated that risk by forcing the industry to rethink how the programs are managed and how employees are trained on the details. Creating a continuous training curriculum, with new microlearning components integrated across learners’ timelines, is critically important to ensuring those details are not lost while understanding that the potential for violations are increased.

Thanks for reading!

Sean Murphy
PharmaCertify By NXLevel Solutions

Up Next: Enhancing Training Engagement in a Changing Industry and World

Compliance Training Lessons from the 2020 Virtual Pharmaceutical Compliance Congress

Part I: A Conference Overview and What It All Means for Your Training

State of the Art Compliance Training, with Dan O’Connor of PharmaCertify, was just one of the 14 on-demand sessions at PCC2020.

Welcome to the first in this multi-part series based on CBI’s recent Pharmaceutical Compliance Congress! For obvious reasons, the conference went virtual this year, yet it offered an impressive lineup of industry professionals, vendors, and government officials offering compelling tips and guidelines for building and maintaining an effective compliance program in the life sciences industry. In addition to the live presentations, organizers offered 14 “on-demand” presentations covering an impressive array of topics, so from a content perspective, the virtual format created even more opportunities for learning.

Over the next month, I will touch on some of the thoughts shared by presenters related to topics like speaker programs, patient programs, risk assessments, third-parties, patient advocacy groups, transparency, and strategies for field team compliance, to name a few. And since the mission of this blog, and the PharmaCertify team, is to help you reduce risk and strengthen your compliance culture through training, I will include suggestions for growing and modifying your compliance training practices and curriculum in response to the information shared during the conference.

Kudos to the team at CBI/Informa for their diligent efforts to replicate the learning and networking experience of the live conference. PCC 2020 was a busy conference, with an impressive volume of content scheduled throughout the week and in the on-demand sessions. If you attended and did not have the opportunity to review the on-demand sessions, I have been told these will remain available until September 14th. You will especially want to review the State-of-the-Art Compliance Training session, where my colleague Dan O’Connor and compliance professionals from Sage Therapeutics, Regeneron, and Akebia Therapeutics share creative approaches for increasing training engagement and adoption. You don’t want to miss that one!

While some of the topics were familiar to anyone who has attended the conference in recent years, the “elephant in the room” was not ignored, as a multitude of presenters addressed the overwhelming challenges of keeping an entire organization focused on conducting business in a compliant manner during these unprecedented times. The result was an interesting blend of traditional and familiar compliance conference topics and guidance on navigating the risk associated with conducting business in a highly regulated industry during a pandemic, or at least as much guidance as can be expected at this time.

From a high-level training standpoint, the presentations at the conference affirm the need for a more dynamic and blended curriculum, with microlearning and other components delivered across your learners’ timelines. The method by which life sciences employees conduct their daily activities has suddenly changed, and the level of risk and potential for violations has grown exponentially with that shift.

One of the more compelling presentations was the “Criticality of Compliance” session with John Crowley of Amicus Therapeutics. John shared his family’s moving story and his incredible journey as he pushed for the development of a product to help his two children (did you know his story was the basis for the feature film, Extraordinary Measures?). As he spoke, John reflected on what the commitment means to the patients battling the rare diseases his company’s products treat, “as life sciences professionals, we are an extension of the oath that doctors and nurses have taken, and it is a solemn oath,” he said, “if there is a compliance violation, everything we hoped for in the next several years is threatened.” It is a laudable approach to building a culture of compliance at Amicus and one worthy of emulation.

I look forward to sharing more ideas from the conference, as well as subsequent training suggestions you can utilize to strive toward similar ideals and goals in your organization.

Thanks for reading!

Sean Murphy
PharmaCertify By NXLevel Solutions

Coming Up: Speaker Programs and Patient Support Programs

A Preview of the 2020 Virtual Pharmaceutical Compliance Congress

As you may have expected, CBI’s Pharmaceutical Compliance Congress is going virtual in 2020. Whether presented live or online, the conference remains one of the few opportunities for those in life science compliance to interact with their peers and learn tips, suggestions, and best practices from industry leaders and government representatives. Live panels and on-demand presentations spread across the agenda represent a wide variety of the topics important to anyone striving to build and maintain a strong and effective compliance program and ethical culture. Here are a few of the presentations I am particularly looking forward to.

On-Demand Presentations

To provide an extensive range of content, organizers have made some sessions available on demand. Or, as they say it on the website, “on-demand content is available anytime, to accommodate your needs and schedule.”

On-demand titles range from Strategies for Field Team Compliance, to Best Practices Around the World for Global Compliance Management, and Hub and Specialty Pharmacy Contract Oversight and Risk Assessment, to name just a few. Make sure you watch the State-of-the-Art Compliance Training panel discussion being hosted by my colleague from PharmaCertify, Dan O’Connor. Dan will be joined by Alex Ganz of Akebia Therapeutics, Jeffrey Hagy of Regeneron, and Erica Powers of Sage Therapeutics for a deep dive into practical and innovative training approaches that you can apply immediately. I’ve seen the notes on this one, trust me, you don’t want to miss it. The full list of on-demand sessions is on the conference website homepage: https://informaconnect.com/pcc/.

Day 1: Monday August 10

After opening remarks and the video review of the year in compliance, James Stansel, Executive Vice President and General Counsel of PhRMA, will present the organization’s annual address, Healthcare Policy Update – Current State of Regulatory Reform Driving Innovation and Access. Then Gary Cantrell, Deputy Inspector General for Investigations at OIG, will deliver the annual OIG/HHS Update.

The panel presentation from the U.S. Attorneys’ offices typically offers a revealing look into the trends and topics currently in focus for the government. This year, Enforcement Docket Deep Dive – Analysis of Recent CIAs and Settlement Trends features representatives from offices around the country, including New Jersey, Southern New York, Nevada, and Massachusetts. Expect patient assistance programs to be at or near the top of the list this year – and, on this note, PharmaCertify will soon offer a new eLearning module covering patient programs. Send me a note if you’d like to preview the content outline.

From 3:00 pm to 3:45 pm, participants choose between two live Q&A sessions, Boot Camp Q&A, with Perri Pomper from Clinical Genomics, Ed Sleeper from Esperion, and Daniel Kracov and Mahnu Davar, both of Arnold & Porter; and Primer Q&A with Rahul Khara of Acceleron Pharma, and Seth Lundy from King & Spalding.

The Opening Night Networking Happy Hour follows the Q&A sessions, and when I preview the live conferences, this is where I typically suggest attendees not miss this great opportunity to interact with peers in one-to-one conversations. There is no reason to believe the virtual networking won’t be as valuable, as attendees and presenters clearly look forward to these rare chances to exchange experiences “face-to-face.” My colleagues and I will be there!

Day 2: Tuesday August 11

The opening session on Day 2 is compelling for its title, When Drug Research is Personal: Fireside Chat with Amicus Therapeutics’ CEO and CRO on the Criticality of Compliance in Advancing Lifesaving Therapies. For those of us who work in compliance training, making that training more meaningful to the individual learner is one of our persistent goals. If our clients can communicate the importance of the training to the careers of the learners, and the lives of the patients, learning is enhanced. I am looking forward to hearing John Crowley and Patrik Florencio describe how the “criticality of compliance in advancing lifesaving therapies” is put into practice at Amicus Therapeutics.

Scanning the agenda for the rest of Day 2, anytime the words “digital revolution” appear in a session title, I am intrigued. So, I will be curious to hear Chad Morin of bluebird bio. and Brian Berry of Vertex Pharmaceuticals describe that revolution in the Patient Centricity and Compliance in the Digital Revolution session.

From 3:00 pm to 3:45 pm, attendees choose from one of four hot topic roundtables. The roundtables are diverse and compelling, depending on your objectives. As always, I recommend dividing with colleagues, or even sharing notes with a new friend you meet in the networking session, to conquer and gather as much information as possible.

Two of the roundtables jump off the screen for me. The word “checklist” in any title always catches my eye. Calling All Emerging Biotechs – Pre-commercial Compliance Considerations and Checklist with Tiago Garrido of Verastem Oncology, Rupa Cornell of Takeda, and Trish Dring of MacroGenics looks to be an interesting primer for anyone in the unique position of preparing a product launch. And, since our training is so often targeted to field teams and the risks they encounter in interactions with HCPs, the Strategies for Field Team Compliance, with Erica Powers of Sage Therapeutics, Patrick Mooty of Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma America, and Julianne Brierley of Novartis will be on my list.

Day 3, Wednesday August 12

Wednesday’s agenda begins with the CCO Showcase: Cutting-Edge and Proactive Models Driving Compliance and Transcending Silos Across the Business. Kudos to conference organizers for scheduling such an impressive lineup of chief compliance officers: Daryl Kreml from Sage Therapeutics, Beth Levine from Regeneron, Jill Macaluso from Novo Nordisk, Bryant Aaron from Novartis, Tina Beamon from Karyopharm Therapeutics, and Joshua Marks from Boehringer Ingelheim. Dedicating time for follow up Q&A after the presentation is a great idea since the interaction with the audience usually offers some of the most interesting exchanges of ideas.

Following the DOJ and SEC Insights session from 2:00 pm – 2:45 pm (e.g., the U.S Attorneys session is always worthwhile) attendees are encouraged to participate in “peer-to-peer networking time.” Each attendee will have his or her own virtual meeting room for what is described as a “streamlined networking opportunity.” It’s another attempt by organizers to provide for personal interaction, and regardless of the outcome, they should be applauded for the effort. Think speed dating without the detail about long walks on the beach and pina coladas.

Day 3 closes with additional roundtable discussions intended to foster small group discussions. Rather than dedicate Wednesday’s roundtables to specific topics, I have been informed the focus will be on “thoughts from the day and conference so far.” I like it!

Day 4, Thursday August 13

Thursday’s agenda kicks off with what should be a worthwhile discussion about navigating the sea of life sciences compliance challenges in the crazy year that is 2020 with a session titled, A Look at How In-House Legal and Compliance Departments are Evolving in 2020 to Help Address Business Challenges. John Oroho from Porzio will moderate the panel joined by Tara D’Orsi of Kyowa Kirin, Michael Clarke of ConvaTec, and Michael Hercz of Sentynl Therapeutics.

Following a late morning session focused on emerging risk areas from industry advisors (hey, how come I wasn’t invited?!) and a lunch break, the day continues with a Small Group Interaction Hosted by Track Presenters, then into the series of live hot topic roundtables from 3:45 pm to 4:30 pm.

Two roundtables stand out for me based on the hot topics in compliance training: Speaker Programs – Current Enforcement Trends, Best Practice Benchmarks and Future Fate with Peter Agnoletto from Sanofi, John Knighton from TherapeuticsMD, Jennifer DeVincenzo of Sobi, and Charlene Davis of Aerie Pharmaceuticals; and Zero-In on Compliant Patient Interactions, with Terra Buckley of Mesoblast, Rahul Khara of Acceleron Pharma, Laurie Durousseau of Rigel Pharmaceuticla, and Christie Camelio from TG Therapeutics.

Day 4, Thursday August 13

The conference closes with two sessions sure to draw a large audience of attendees. First up is, Anti-Kickback Accusations and the Aftermath — An Inside Look at Sales and Marketing Practices Under Fire with Jonathan Roper, a former district sales manager for Insys Therapeutics. The Insys case obviously holds a deep cauldron of lessons learned in every aspect of compliance, and its impact continues to reverberate across the industry.

Finally, conference organizers could not have picked a better session to close with than Empowerment, Diversity and Inclusion. Sujata Dayal of Medline Industries, Jim Massey, formerly of AstraZeneca, Maggie Feltz of Purdue Pharma, and Veleka Peeples-Dyer from Baker & McKenzie LLP will delve into what is certainly a timely and important topic in today’s world.

See You at the Conference

The logistics involved in the transition to a virtual conference must be daunting. CBI, Informa Connect, and all the speakers, are to be congratulated on their efforts and dedication to bringing so much critical content to the agenda. It looks to be a fantastic five days of learning and I hope this information provides you with more context on some key topics that caught my interest.

If you’re attending the conference, I hope to see you in the virtual PharmaCertify booth, where you can learn more about our training products and services and share thoughts about the conference. If you have not yet registered, we still have $500 sponsor discount registration certificates available. Contact us at info@pharmacertify.com to take advantage of this opportunity to join us.

Thanks for reading. I will see you online at the conference!

Sean Murphy
Product & Marketing Manager
PharmaCertify by NXLevel Solutions

My First Glance at the Agenda for the 17th Annual Pharmaceutical Compliance Congress

The 17th Annual Pharmaceutical Compliance Congress is scheduled for April 29 – May 1, 2020 in Washington D.C.

When scanning an agenda for an upcoming compliance conference, I begin by identifying the presentations that feature new topics, or ones that offer a compelling twist on a long-standing topic. This isn’t to suggest you should ever focus exclusively on the “new and shiny” sessions over those that have a more familiar ring. For those of us steeped in many years of conference attendance, sessions like DOJ and SEC Insights and Third-Party Risk Assessment and Oversight are always worthwhile for the updates offered by industry leaders and government regulators.

My initial review of the agenda for CBI’s 17th Annual Pharmaceutical Compliance Congress, scheduled for April 29 – May 1 in Washington D.C., reveals an intriguing mix of new and bold content, along with tried, true, and recognizable presentations. The conference is consistently one of the “can’t-miss” opportunities for life sciences compliance professionals to interact with their peers and hear best practices and suggestions for reducing risk across their companies. From a training development perspective, the presentations help keep us aware of important content trends, as we strive to provide training products you need to continually evolve your curriculum and address compliance risk.

With that in my mind, here are my thoughts on some of the sessions planned for this year’s conference.

Day One – Wednesday, April 29, 2020

CBI has scheduled three concurrent “summits” to open the conference. Summit 1, Bio/Pharma Compliance Boot Camp appears to be an ideal opportunity for those attendees new to compliance to gain a foothold on the topics that form the foundation of the industry. Perri Pomper of Clinical Genomics and Ed Sleeper of Esperion will be joined by Mahnu Davar and Daniel Kracov of Arnold & Porter to cover the essentials. If you are new to the industry, you don’t want to miss this one.

After a networking and refreshment break in the Exhibit Hall (shameless plug – don’t forget to stop by the PharmaCertify booth), three more concurrent summits are planned for the afternoon. Summit IV, Primer Course on Compliant Patient Interactions, from Clinical to Commercial, offers an update on an obviously hot topic, from Rahul Khara of Acceleron Pharma and Seth Lundy of King & Spalding. In Summit V, Compliance and Legal Watch-Outs for Partnering and Deal-Making, Erik Eglite of Aurina Pharmaceuticals will address the compliance challenges inherent in product partnerships. Summit VI, Empowerment, Diversity and Inclusion, stands out as something new and compelling for this conference. Kudos to CBI, as well as presenters, Sujata Dayal of Johnson & Johnson, Jim Massey of AstraZeneca, and Maggie Feltz, of Purdue Pharma, for taking on such an important and timely topic.

Day One closes with the PCC Kick-Off Party and Welcome Cocktail Reception. This is one of the best opportunities you’ll have to interact with your peers while visiting the vendors who provide an array of the services you need to build a stronger culture of compliance. While there, visit the PharmaCertify booth to see demos of our newest compliance training products, all designed to help you enhance the retention of key policies and regulations in the field and across the company.

Day Two – Thursday, April 30, 2020

Following a networking breakfast, and the chairperson’s opening remarks, Day Two begins with a Regulatory and Enforcement Showcase, featuring presentations from representatives of PhRMA and  government entities, including the OIG, various U.S. Attorney offices, the DOJ, and the SEC. The Enforcement Docket Deep-Dive is the annual review of recent corporate integrity agreements and settlements. The panel features an impressive array of representatives from U.S. attorney offices around the country. Consistently, from year to year, these enforcement updates offer critical insight into the latest government oversight trends.

The session titled, Chasing Miracles – When Drug Research is Personal jumped off the screen for me. As a company dedicated to the development of compliance training that reduces risk on a sustained basis, we strive to make that training relevant, personal, and meaningful. I look forward to hearing John Crowley and Patrik Florencio, both of Amicus Therapeutics, discuss how they introduce and communicate the “criticality of compliance in advancing lifesaving therapies,” as it is described in the agenda.

Following the networking lunch, attendees choose from six concurrent workshops. While that may seem like a daunting decision, I recommend partnering with colleagues and associates to divide and conquer. Sharing notes over dinner or coffee is a powerful way to get the most out of the conference and bring more actionable knowledge back to your job.

While all the workshops look to be worthwhile on the surface, three stood out for applicability and relevancy to risk areas. First, Calling All Emerging Biotechs – Pre-Commercial Considerations and Checklist appears to be an ideal opportunity for anyone working with a smaller company, with one product commercialized or soon to be commercialized. I am anxious to hear if Eric Baim of Dovetail Consulting, Tiago Garrido of Verastem, and Rupa Cornell of Stealth BioTherapeutics touch on training as they cover the unique risk and resourcing challenges faced by companies in this tier.

On the hot topic front, the Enforcement Snapshot and Best Practices Related to PAPs, Coupons, Copays and Foundations addresses the risk that seems to be on everyone’s mind, including the collective ones at the OIG. Stephanie Doebler of Covington and Burling LLP, and Katherine Chaurette from Blueprint Medicines Corporation will present.

On the persistently relevant front, Third-Party Risk Assessment and Oversight, with Dennis Barnes of Mayne Pharma, Tali Guy, of Teva Pharmaceuticals, and Michael Clarke of ConvaTec, will surely be relevant for anyone whose company conducts business globally through third-party vendors. That’s a wide swath.

The concurrent workshops continue throughout the afternoon, with six from 2:55 pm to 3:55 pm and six more from 4:25 pm to 5:30 pm. Workshop G has a compelling title in line with the earlier one focused on emerging biotechs, “Product Approved, Now What? Building Out the Compliance Infrastructure with Limited Resources.”  It’s a topic near and dear to the hearts and budgets of many of our clients and I will be listening closely for how Jeffrey Levitt of Stemline Therapeutics, John Knighton, of TherapeuticsMD, and Jim Flaherty of Rhythm Therapeutics handle development and deployment of training on those limited resources.

Back on the hot topic front, Workshop K, Hub and Specialty Pharmacy Oversight and Risk Assessment, features Sarah Whipple of Akebia Therapeutics, and Meenakshi Datta of Sidley Austin; and I am interested in hearing their expert analysis on assessing the risks associated with hubs, and of course, how that risk is addressed in training.

Finally, you do not want to miss Workshop P, State-of-the-Art Compliance Training, with Erica Powers of SAGE Therapeutics, and my colleague from PharmaCertify, Dan O’Connor. In this case, “state-of-the-art training” may not mean what you assume it means in terms of design and budget. Erica and Dan will present different methods for addressing risk and deploying more effective training, no matter your learning objectives and business goals.

Day Three – Friday, May 1, 2020

If the multitudes of workshop choices on Day Two aren’t enough to satiate your hunger for compelling compliance content, CBI has scheduled five full sessions followed by your choice of five tailored content tracks, with two presentations per track:

  • Track 1: Speaker Programs – Current Enforcement Trends, Best Practices Benchmarks, and Future Fate
  • Track 2: Commercial and Government Pricing Transparency and Reporting
  • Track 3: Taking Monitoring, Auditing, and Investigations to the Next Level
  • Track 4: Zero-in on Compliant Patient Interactions
  • Track 5: Clinical Trial Legal and Contracting Considerations and Risk Management Strategies

Among the presentations that precede the track sessions, Lessons Learned from the Field. Anti-Kickback Accusations and the Aftermath – An Inside Look at Sales and Marketing Practices Under Fire should be interesting to say the least. If the title alone wasn’t intriguing enough, the presenter is Jonathan Roper, former district sales manager for Insys Therapeutics. Roper was charged with violating the Anti-Kickback Statute in connection with his participation in the company’s scheme to encourage HCPs to prescribe its fentanyl-based sublingual spray. I am encouraged to see that along with sharing his story from the Insys trenches, Roper is expected to cover the importance of an effective compliance training program in his comments. Buckle your seat belts, it’s going to be an interesting 30-minute session.

An Opportunity to Attend

The sessions I cover above represent only a fraction of the veritable plethora of important content covered in the three-day conference. Whether you work as an n of 1, or by contrast, you have access to a wealth of resources and personnel, the conference offers countless opportunities to bring back the information you need to build, maintain, and grow a better program and culture of compliance.

As a conference sponsor, we are offering a significant discount on the registration fee. Contact me at smurphy@nxlevelsolutions.com if you are interested in this opportunity, and we will see you in Washington!

Be a compliance training hero, with a little help from PharmaCertify…and a discount on the conference registration!

Sean Murphy
Marketing Manager
PharmaCertify by NXLevel Solutions

What I Heard at the 20th Annual Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Life Sciences Compliance Congress…and What It Means for Your Compliance Training!

Dan O’Connor of PharmaCertify and a panel of industry leaders share their experiences during the training workshop at this year’s Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Compliance Congress.

Presenters at this year’s Life Sciences Compliance Congress from the Pharmaceutical Compliance Forum (PCF) covered some of the same ground as previous conferences (tone at the top, sharing resources, mine the data, etc.) while mixing in a significant amount of new content and thought-provoking ideas for the attendees to consider. PCF even added an impressive amount of “mini-summits” to the agenda to ensure the content appealed to compliance professionals dealing with a variety of risks. It was a challenging, yet worthwhile, amount of information to absorb.

Following are some of the more interesting ideas shared at the conference, along with thoughts on what they mean for the compliance industry and for anyone interested in building and maintaining a successful compliance program.

  1. “Don’t worry about developing a culture of compliance, develop a culture of integrity instead.”
    The idea of making compliance concepts more relatable or understandable is nothing new and it was discussed extensively during this year’s Chief Compliance Officer Roundtable. According to the presenters, employees understand “integrity” more than they understand building a “culture of compliance.” The panelists offered examples of how they strive to integrate the concept of integrity throughout the company – from annual integrity awards, to asking every employee to write how they model integrity and ethical behavior in their daily business activities. As they put it, “don’t make it a compliance policy issue, make it an integrity issue.”
  2. “Don’t underestimate the ability of people to rationalize.”
    The life sciences industry holds the potential to “alleviate pain, restore health, and extend life.” While that is a noble responsibility, it holds the potential for dangerous rationalization. It’s too easy to think, “since we are saving lives, I need to get this product out faster…so I need to make this sale as quickly as possible,” or “I know my product is better than the competition, so I need to do whatever is needed to make the sale.” Continuous training is needed to instill a sense of responsibility in learners and help guard against the dangers of rationalization.
  3. “If you don’t get access to the Board as a member of the compliance team, that company is not a place you want to be.”
    Surprisingly, this one came from the AUSA Roundtable. I did not expect to hear career advice offered by a group of Assistant U.S. Attorneys, but it reinforces the notion that the compliance department must be integrated into the entire company, top to bottom, to be effective. It was a theme carried throughout the conference and led to compelling debates around topics like whether the compliance department should report to the legal department (hint: most regulators prefer to see it having the clout that comes with being a standalone department).
  4. “The shift to a patient-centered business model comes with risk.”
    During the session on “charitable contributions compliance considerations,” panelists focused on the need to avoid any suggestion that support programs and assistance programs are being used to increase sales. The separation between more sales and making products available to more patients is a fine line. As was also mentioned (and most industry insiders know), the list of Corporate Integrity Agreements (CIAs) focused on donations is growing. Panelists stressed the need to be careful about “where the charitable money is coming from.” If it comes from the commercial budget, it will be considered a commercial payment.
  5. “Communication style and protocol is key when dealing with co-pay foundations.”
    During the Helping Patient Access to Products session, presenters raised surprising points about the nuances of communication. As an example, “smiley face icons” in emails may seem innocuous, but they need to be avoided not only for general inappropriateness purposes, and because they hold the potential to be misleading during an investigation. Does that “wink” imply a favor or quid pro quo? The key throughout all communication is to avoid any suggestion that a support program is being used to overcome a co-pay barrier.
  6. “International cooperation across policing agencies continues to increase.”
    According to the presenters in the US DOJ and US SEC Update on FCPA Enforcement session, they are seeing a growing number of referrals from overseas regulatory bodies – significantly more than they saw ten years ago. Risk is rising, as are the number of whistleblower cases, and the panelists encouraged audience members to carefully review the DOJ’s April 2019 Evaluation of Corporate Compliance Programs document for what the agency considers to be the best practices for building and maintaining an effective program and reducing risk.
  7. “The lack of understanding between pharmaceutical sampling and medical device sampling is like day and night, and that makes it complicated.”
    Much of the Annual Medical Device Roundtable was understandably dedicated to the challenges associated with “asset management.” Consider that every missing, or unaccounted for, device could be considered a kickback during an investigation.  As one panelist emphasized, “the government has zero tolerance for asset management problems.” Another raised the interesting point that companies must ensure they are loaning devices to HCPs for the right reasons, and not because those HCPs want “to replace a machine that is currently not functioning” or “to use it for one test.”
  8. “Sharing resources can become political. Your initiatives may get pushed back when budgets are tightened.”
    The sessions dedicated to compliance for small to mid-sized businesses always provide unique insight to those attendees faced with limited resources and budget and this conference was no exception. The idea of reaching out to other areas of the company for support is a common refrain, and the added twist of what happens when budgets tighten was thought provoking. As the presenters explained, when compliance is a priority with corporate and with the Board, fighting that pushback gets easier. Tone at the top may be a bit cliché, but it’s a powerful weapon in the battle for time and money.
  9. “A corporate integrity agreement can be an opportunity to improve your overall compliance program.”
    Dreading the thought of a CIA is understandable, but the five years spent abiding by the terms of the settlement provides the momentum to build up a budget and showcase the importance of the program. Buy-in from corporate on resources is automatic during the CIA and it serves as the blueprint for what can be accomplished moving forward. Exiting the CIA is the time to evaluate lessons learned and evaluate methods for making the compliance program even stronger. From a training standpoint, the end of a CIA is also the time to evaluate what mandated programs were successful and explore opportunities to deploy more targeted, role-based training.
  10. “Your risk assessment needs to guide your monitoring and make it more meaningful.” This is actually a hybrid of statements made by Mary Riordan of the Office of Inspector General (OIG) during her much-anticipated annual speech and multiple presenters throughout the two days of presentations. The bottom line: a successful compliance program cannot be a cookie cutter effort, replicated from one company to another. Risks assessments need to be conducted at least on an annual basis and every aspect of the compliance program, including training, should be evaluated and modified accordingly. Continuous improvement is needed to make it meaningful and relevant.

What Else Does It Means for Your Compliance Training?

Whether you work in the pharmaceutical or medical device industry, the world of compliance is evolving, and the design and delivery of training must evolve as well. Based on the information shared in the OIG, DOJ, and AUSA sessions, the guidelines for who receives what training, at what frequency, needs to be enhanced.

As an example, during the session on reducing risk using a portfolio approach to compliance training, panelists discussed the need to integrate contextual reminders like vis aids, static prompts like intranet banners and poster, and active prompts like emails and desk drops to more effectively change behavior and facilitate a shift to that “culture of integrity.” The need to “make compliance training stick” is growing and now is the time to reevaluate your training curriculum and delivery methods.

Thanks for reading, I hope to see you at the “21” Annual Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Compliance Congress in 2020!

Sean Murphy
Product and Marketing Manager
PharmaCertify by NXLevel Solutions

Previewing the 20th Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Compliance Congress

Visit Tessa Hoyer and the rest of the PharmaCertify team in the Exhibit Hall to see demos of our newest compliance training solutions!

The Pharmaceutical Compliance Forum (PCF) is celebrating a milestone this year with the 20th anniversary of its annual Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Compliance Congress. I have attended the past 12 of these conferences (yikes) and I am consistently impressed with PCF’s ability to create a fresh and relevant agenda while still covering the fundamentals.

The conference is just around the corner (November 6-8 at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Washington D.C.) so let’s get the celebration started with a preview of this year’s sessions.

Day 1: Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Pre-Conference Symposia, 8:00 a.m.

Although the conference “officially” opens at 1:00 p.m., four pre-conference symposia are scheduled from 8:00 to 12:00 Noon as follows:

  1. Risk Assessment Recommendations Based on DOJ Updated Guidance
  2. Third-party Interactions, Including Distributors and Non-Distributor Third Party Vendor Compliance
  3. Investigations: Interconnectivity of Auditing, Monitoring, Investigations, Including Privilege
  4. Emerging Role of Analytics, Bog Data & AI Opportunities for Life Sciences: Implications for Ethics and Compliance

All the sessions offer valuable and worthwhile content as described in the agenda, and that makes the decision as to which one to attend even more challenging. Pre-conference Sessions 1 and 2 are consecutive so you can attend both, but you still need to decide between Sessions 3 and 4. Session 3, which is focused on investigations, is described as covering “issues for a big company vs. a small company,” so it certainly has broad appeal. My suggestion is to take a “divide, conquer, and share notes” approach if you happen to be attending with co-workers, or can tag-team with friendly colleagues from other companies.

Opening Plenary Session, 1:00 p.m.

The conference officially begins with a welcome and introduction from the five PCF co-chairs (Sujata Dayal of Johnson & Johnson, Jeffrey Kawalek of Jazz Pharmaceuticals, Jennifer McGee of Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Donna White of Chiesi, and Joe Zimmerman of Ferring Pharmaceuticals), at 1:00 p.m. I would normally skip over the opening 15 minutes when previewing a conference, but since industry luminaries are involved, I would suggest you stay on high alert for any unexpected and bonus pearls of wisdom.

20th Anniversary Dialogue: Lessons Learned from 20 Years of Pharma and Medical Device Investigations, Prosecutions, Ethics and Compliance, 1:15 p.m.

The celebration kicks into high gear for this 1:15 p.m. session that features no less than seven presenters, including industry leaders Douglas Lankler from Pfizer, and Lori Queisser from Teva Pharmaceuticals, as well as government regulators Daniel Levinson, former Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and James Sheehan of the Charities Bureau of the New York State Department of Law. It’s an impressive array of experience from both sides of the issues.

Keynotes: OIG Update/ US DOJ Update/FDA Update, 2:15 p.m.

At this point, the government’s perspective will be presented in three consecutive keynotes by Mary Riordan of the Office of Inspector General, Brian Benczkowski of the DOJ, and Thomas Abrams of the FDA. The annual discussions of where the industry has been and what will be next year’s likely focus and workplans, always offer clues as to where compliance professionals should be focusing their efforts and future plans.

Annual Chief Compliance Officer Roundtable, 5:00 p.m.

After a presentation on pricing cost containment, the Annual Chief Compliance Office Roundtable closes Day 1. Although the agenda does not detail the topics to be covered, expect the seven industry professionals listed, including Charlene Davis of Aerie Pharmaceuticals, Sunitha Ramamurthy of Loxo Oncology, and Adam Dubow of Bristol-Myers Squibb, to cover a wide swath of relevant and important topics. Keith Korenchuk of Danaher Diagnostics and Thomas Schumacher of Medtronic will bring a welcomed medical device angle to the discussion.

Adjournment and Networking Reception and 20th Anniversary Party, 6:00 p.m.

I typically highlight the conference networking reception as a can’t-miss opportunity to share information and experiences with other compliance professionals, and to form valuable relationships with industry peers. This year’s compliance congress brings the bonus of an anniversary party so let the noisemakers ring and the champagne flow!

Day 2: Thursday, November 7, 2019

Morning Plenary Session, 8:45 a.m.

Following a series of concurrent breakfast roundtables from 7:15 to 8:15 a.m., and the Co-chair’s Welcome and Introductions, Day 2 kicks off with an interview of the Countess of Frederiksborg, Alexandra Christina. In addition to being a Countess, she is the Chairperson of the Ethics and Compliance Board Committee for Ferring Pharmaceutics and co-author of The Sincerity Edge: How Ethical Leaders Build Dynamic Businesses.

U.S. DOJ and U.S. SEC Update on FCPA Enforcement, 9:15 a.m.

The FCPA is back! Or, at least the topic is back on conference agendas after what seems like an extended absence (or at least from the conferences I attended). Presenters include Robert Dodge of the SEC, David Last of the DOJ’s FCPA Unit, and Gary Giampetruzzi, partner at Paul Hastings and former Head of Government Investigations at Pfizer.

AUSA Roundtable, 10:00 a.m.

John Bentivoglio, Partner at Skadden, keeps the enforcement topics going as he moderates the discussion from the AUSA angle with Rachel Honig of the District of New Jersey, Amanda Massenlam Strachan of the District of Massachusetts, and John Claud, from the Consumer Protection Branch of the DOJ.

Mini Summits Block A, 11:15 a.m.

This is where the agenda gets challenging but potentially rewarding. PCF has scheduled four “blocks” of mini summits (A, B, C, and D) right up to the closing plenary session at 4:45 p.m. As with the pre-conference symposia, a “divide and conquer” approach with your colleagues is recommended. Even if those colleagues aren’t from the same company, make friends, then share notes over dinner or via email the following week. For the sake of brevity, I will highlight one mini summit per block, but please review all options in the agenda to determine your best fit based on your interests, compliance challenges, and company risks.

Mini Summit II: Reduce Compliance Risk Using a Portfolio Approach to Training! (Microlearning Alone is Not the Answer)

I may be a bit biased since I have spent the last 12 years building compliance training and my colleague, Dan O’Connor, is moderating this session. But, with microlearning being all the rage, this promises to be a compelling look at what that term really means, and as importantly, why it is not the one and only panacea for making training stick.

If you work in medical device, please consider Mini Summit VII: Annual Medical Device Roundtable. Kudos to PCF for integrating medical device sessions into the agenda.

Mini Summits Block B, 12:45 p.m.

Mini Summit VIII: Lessons Learned from Enforcement Actions

This session stands out as an opportunity to hear an impressive array of industry leaders, including Tom Glavin from Olympus, William Hrubes of ACell, Puja Leekha of Lundbeck, and Kathleen Boozang, Dean of the Seton Hall University School of Law. Legal actions and settlements have long been the guideposts for where and how regulators focus their efforts and they should be an integral component in the planning of a yearly compliance plan and training curriculum.

Note: attendees dealing with the risk that combination (med device/pharma) products bring should alternatively consider, Mini Summit XIV: Issues with Medical Device/Combination Products.

Mini Summits Block C, 2:00 p.m.

Mini Summit XIX: Compliance – Board Communications: Effective Measurement and Reporting Strategies

Expect a deep dive into a topic that has risen to the forefront of industry concern with this look at the most effective methods for integrating the Board of Directors into the compliance program. Expect Katherine Norris of Berkeley Research Group to lead an informative panel that pleasantly includes a current member of the U.S. Board of Directors for Sanofi, Thomas Costa.

Mini Summits Block D, 3:30 p.m.

Mini Summit XXIII: Social Media Engagement by Manufacturers

Social media seems to be such a moving target for the life sciences industry. Hopefully, this team of industry professionals, including Joanne Kwan of Exelixis and Jessica Sergi of EMD Serono, can offer insight and guidance to an audience sure to be hungry for answers to vexing and evolving questions.

Again, the mini summits listed above are only a few of the sessions offered during this year’s conference. Visit the agenda section of the conference website to review the full list and decide which presentations best meet your needs.

After completion of the mini summits, the Day 2 adjourns with an important and sure to be sobering plenary session on “what pharmaceutical/medical device industries can learn from the opioid cases,” followed by a discussion on the “changing face of the qui tam.”

Day 3: Friday, November 8, 2019

Day 3 features an “industry only best practices think tank,” with Sujata Dayal from Johnson & Johnson and Jacob Elberg, Associate Professor of Law at Seton Hall, followed by a benchmarking survey and table discussion breakouts before the conference closes at 12:00 Noon.

It’s Not to Late to Attend!

The Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Compliance Congress offers compliance professionals the rare opportunity, along with CBI’s conference in the Spring, to interact face-to-face with their peers and learn from leaders in the industry and regulators. From a compliance training standpoint, our organization considers it an invaluable opportunity to hear about the challenges facing pharmaceutical and medical device companies directly from those who matter the most, our clients, colleagues, and friends.

If you’re interested in attending, contact me at smurphy@nxlevelsolutions.com to take advantage of our conference sponsor registration discount.

See you in Washington!

Sean Murphy
PharmaCertify by NXLevel Solutions