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

Key Messages from the 2021 Virtual Pharmaceutical Compliance Congress (And How the Messages Affect Your Compliance Curriculum)

In what was hopefully the last of the “virtual” compliance conferences (fingers and toes crossed), the 2021 Pharmaceutical Compliance Congress (PCC) offered time-tested and established standards (insert “tone from the top” and “ethics-based approach” here), thankfully blended with new best practices, trends, and suggestions from an impressive list of industry executives and government representatives. Some of the key messages from the three-day conference are listed below, along with my thoughts on how those concepts affect your training curriculum in 2021 and beyond.  

1. OIG’s Special Fraud Alert on Speaker Programs still ripples across the industry.

The comments surrounding the OIG’s Fraud Alert released last November certainly were not revelatory, but the fact that industry insiders and regulators are still stressing its importance is meaningful. The Alert was referenced right out of the gate in the presentation by Jim Stansel of PhRMA, and one presenter in the Enforcement Trends presentation summarized its impact by saying, “OIG has thrown down the gauntlet on speaker programs with the Fraud Alert.” As the industry moves away from virtual engagements toward more in-person programs, expect intensified scrutiny.

Speaker programs remain a hot topic for enforcement, and as the industry emerges from the pandemic, your learners need refresher training on the foundational rules of compliant speaker programs and the key concepts associated with those programs. We can help, with our recently updated PharmaCertify Foundations eLearning module, Managing Speaker Program Risk.

2. Data is your friend. (Or should that be “Data are your friend? That one always confuses me.)

The need to scrutinize data has been a recurring topic of conversation, and this year’s PCC was no exception. Having access to data in the right form and unitizing that data to identify trends and outliers is key to an effective compliance program. “Be proactive to dig deep into the data,” one presenter at the Chief Compliance Officer Showcase on Day 1 suggested, “and identify field personnel who are consistently right at the meal limits.”

In life sciences compliance, the devil is in the data, and an informed evaluation of data is critical when updating and optimizing your compliance training curriculum. What is the data telling you? If you’re seeing concerning trends, you’ve got a training challenge. And if you’re not seeing any trends, you’re probably not looking hard enough, or you’re not gathering the right data. As my colleague, Dan O’Connor, pointed out in the Creative Compliance Training Solutions presentation, “when you send out post-training surveys, don’t ask the learners if they liked the training, focus on what they learned and ask them what they can apply in their jobs.” The data is out there, you just have to find it.

3. An ounce of compliance prevention is worth a pound of effectiveness.

In the Former Prosecutor Panel, one presenter emphasized the need to proactively address issues, whether a company is establishing its compliance program or reinforcing important policies as the business evolves. “Getting legal advice on the front of the program is important,” he says, “and when you move back to live interactions, refresh employees on the perils of speaker programs.”

No matter the topic, an adaptive approach to learning is the most effective way to ensure your audience is mastering the concepts and policies. Retention is enhanced when training is rolled out on a continuous basis, in the form of microlearning nuggets, where learners are asked to repeatedly demonstrate their knowledge and understanding. You will sleep better knowing you’ve taken steps to reduce risk.

4. Join in the innovation.

During the Chief Compliance Officer Luminary Panel, one presenter pointed out that the pandemic has forced companies to be innovative in how they navigate business activities, and she reminded the audience that the compliance department “should play a big role in that innovation.” The day of compliance and business operating in siloed fashion are long over. “A seat at the table” is no longer a hopeful cliché randomly mentioned at compliance conferences. To facilitate a true partnership under which compliance polices and best practices are integrated into the daily activities of the workforce, everyone involved needs to understand that risk tolerance in the industry has changed, and the only way to reduce that risk is through a unified spirit of collaboration and innovation.

That notion of cooperation and collaboration extends to training. When compliance training and concepts are integrated regularly into each employee’s full curriculum and daily work, learning is enhanced and stronger ethical cultures are forged. And as was referenced on Day 1 of the conference, statistics from the Ethisphere Institute, an organization focused on defining and measuring corporate ethical standards, show that companies with strong ethical cultures perform better.

5. Evaluate your vendors’ compliance programs as part of your due diligence.

The idea of conducting due diligence before hiring third-party vendors has long been espoused at compliance conferences. But I was intrigued to hear a presenter in the Fireside Chat with CCOs suggest an even deeper dive into a vendor’s compliance program to evaluate whether its practices and principles align with those of your company.

On the training front, that includes a thorough evaluation of the vendor’s compliance training program. Do they cover the high-risk topics pertinent to your company and its products? Do they conduct compliance training in general? How often do they train their employees? How accurate and focused is that training in terms of content? These are the type of questions that need to be incorporated into your third-party vendor risk questionnaire and considered before the contracts are signed.

6. The Sunshine Act rises again.

Too often, life sciences professionals regard Sunshine Act/Open Payments training as a “one and done” event. But as presenters in the Analysis of OIG Special Fraud Alert on Speaker Programs and Assessment of Future Activities session pointed out, Medtronic’s recent settlement with the OIG included a payment to resolve allegations that it failed to accurately report payments to CMS. This topic is too big and too risky to not being training more aggressively.

In addition to refreshing the content in our Compliance Foundations module, The Sunshine Act and Open Payments, we recently added The Sunshine Act Payment Categories QuickTake module to our library of customizable off-the-shelf products. The five-minute module is the perfect complement and reinforcement course to the foundational training, which covers the topic at a higher level.

7. The pandemic is not an excuse.

The notion that the pandemic does not give companies an excuse to lose sight of compliance was repeated daily throughout the conference. Industry leaders and government representatives reminded the audience that the shift to virtual interactions and programs will not be viewed as justification for breaking the law or acting in bad faith. Even though the way in which business is conducted has changed, the core principles and rules governing compliance have not.

The same holds true for your training curriculum. Don’t use the pandemic as an excuse to “put off” searching for ways to enhance training and increase engagement. In fact, you should be doing just the opposite as the industry shifts back to more live interactions. We can help with our Compliance Curriculum Analysis Process (CCAP), which is a comprehensive process to identify training gaps and reinforcement opportunities in your training components.

8. Expect continuing focus on foundations and copay assistance.

Enforcement trends around patient support programs and foundations are growing. It’s a topic on the minds of regulators and routinely on compliance conference agendas. As one of the presenters in the Keynote Enforcement Panel on Emerging Trends Enforcement put it, “we are seeing a ton of copay assistance cases in our district.”

Emphasis needs to be placed on patient program training. And to borrow a phrase, we’ve got a module for that. The Compliance Foundations module, Patient Programs and Their Risks, is a great starting point. Module topics include protecting patient privacy, discussing programs with HCPs, working with vendors, and a topic that is top of mind in life sciences – donations to foundations.  

Conclusion

The organizers of the virtual PCC have made the main stage and on-demand sessions available until May 29 for attendees. If you were there, I highly recommend you visit the conference site for content you may have missed or to revisit the sessions most relevant to you and your company. It’s one of the perks of attending a virtual event.   

While Informa made every effort to replicate the look, agenda, and networking opportunities associated with a live event, it cannot match the on-site conference experience. Fortunately, I am told Informa is planning a live conference for the fall, which will be welcomed news if the dates don’t conflict with those of the Pharmaceutical Compliance Forum’s conference. Bring on the real thing!

Thanks for reading; I look forward to seeing you “live and in person” at a conference before too long!

Sean Murphy
PharmaCertify by NXLevel Solutions

Jen Anderson of Vertex, Jackie Parris of Incyte, and Dan O’Connor of PharmaCertify present during the Creative Compliance Training Solutions session at the virtual 2021 Pharmaceutical Compliance Congress.

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

Key Training Takeaways from the KENX Biopharma and Biotech Corporate Compliance Summit

There is a new player in the life sciences commercial compliance conference space. After focusing on the GxP compliance field for years, the Knowledge Exchange Network (KENX) has joined the lineup of organizations targeting the commercial side of the industry. With Informa Connect (CBI) and PCF setting such a high bar for compliance conferences for years, I was looking forward to the possibility of hearing even more ideas for building an effective compliance program during KENX’s recent Biopharma and Biotech Corporate Compliance Summit webinar.

And that is exactly what happened, as an impressive array of industry leaders and established vendors presented new tips and suggestions for reducing risk and building an effective compliance program for established and emerging companies alike. Here are five key takeaways from the day-long webinar that may help you optimize your compliance training curriculum (that is, after all, our mission and passion at PharmaCertify):

1. “Establish a relationship with senior sales personnel so compliance is top of mind for new hires from the start.”

While the “partner with the business” refrain has been espoused frequently over recent years, the idea of turning to the sales leaders to make sure sales representatives hit the proverbial ground running is a compelling twist – particularly for compliance professionals from emerging companies, where resources are limited. Just as compliance needs to have a seat in the business, the business (and sales) needs to be part of the compliance committee to help establish a baseline of compliance expectations and avoid miscues from the start.

2. “The best practices and the rules are evolving quickly, especially during the pandemic. Keep in touch with your peers to discuss how they are managing the evolution to virtual interactions and changing policies.”

I have written about how the larger compliance conferences offer a rare opportunity for compliance professionals to interact with their peers one-on-one and soak in best practices for compliance. But isn’t it a shame that those opportunities are so rare? They don’t have to be. Organizations like KENX, Informa Connect, and PCF offer smaller one-day sessions focused on a plethora of topics, and even when conducted virtually, these programs offer a chance to connect with those who are dealing with the same challenges as you. Even if it’s through a compliance training group like the one we created on LinkedIn, sharing common experiences, successes, and bumps in the road is a critical tool for navigating the morass of changing policy and priorities during the pandemic.

3. “Study the 2020 OIG Fraud Alert to identify the areas that are top of mind for government regulators moving forward.”

A cursory review of the special fraud alert released by the OIG last November reveals nothing revelatory or surprising in terms of the fraud and abuse risks related to speaker programs. Rather, as was noted during the webinar, the importance of the alert lies more in the mere fact that the agency released it. On page 3 of the document, the agency states “Our investigations have revealed that, often, HCPs receive generous compensation to speak at programs offered under circumstances that are not conducive to learning or to speak to audience members who have no legitimate reason to attend.” Anyone who has been paying attention to recent settlements is not shocked by such a statement but the language points to two of the areas the OIG considers to be of primary concern for compliance violations. Consider this special alert as a shot across the bow of the industry. The focus on the speaker programs isn’t going away anytime soon, and now is the time to make sure your policy and training targeting reps, presenters, and vendors is up to date and covers all the risk areas.   

4. “Trade show vendors have probably not thought through the potential compliance concerns of holding the meetings virtually. You need to be engaged with them about those details beforehand.”

Compliance training cannot end with employees, especially during a pandemic when the rules are constantly changing. When a vendor is organizing a trade show or conducting any business on behalf of the company, the risk grows exponentially. Are your trade show vendors aware of the rules and your policies regarding product promotion and scientific exchange? Have you fully considered the ramifications of building and delivering online training for vendors? Don’t assume that your vendors are going to take the same diligent approach to compliance as you do and don’t just hope they stay abreast of the latest best practices around virtual communication. If you launched vendor training prior to the pandemic, consider adding microlearning refresher training to highlight changes in policy.

5. “Utilize a campaign approach to training to support branding efforts and make the concepts more memorable.”

The session titled, “Training – Best Practices for Promotional Compliance challenges in a Virtual World, Creative Solutions to Keep Sales Reps from Going Off the Guardrails” offered a range of tips for changing behavior through core training, performance support, and reinforcement training (I know, I’m biased because the co-presenter was my colleague, Dan O’Connor, but you really should see this slide deck). No matter your budget, rolling out branded components across a learner’s timeline, rather than launching one large bolus of content, has been proven to enhance learning and increase the retention of that content. The “Forgetting Curve” is real, and if you want to make your training more memorable, you need to make it continuous.

All the presentations during the Biopharma and Biotech Corporate Compliance Summit offered enough nuanced twists on familiar topics to make a one-day commitment of time worthwhile. The last year has seen an upheaval in how the industry conducts business, which has resulted in a sudden need for changes to compliance practices and policies. Even with established organizations like PCF and Informa Connect continuing to keep their own events timely and relevant, there is always room for another player. Welcome to the party, KNEX.

Thanks for reading!

Sean Murphy
PharmaCertify

Compliance Training Lessons from the 2020 Virtual Pharmaceutical Compliance Congress

Part 3: Compliance Training in An Uncertain Time

This is the third and final post in a series covering the compliance training lessons learned at the 2020 Virtual Pharmaceutical Compliance Congress. Throughout the conference, regulators and industry professionals stressed the need for constant evaluation and modification of all aspects of a compliance program, including the training program. The successful mitigation of risk in a program requires continual careful documentation and evaluation of training topics, audiences, and deployment frequency, as well as the effectiveness of the tools utilized to deploy the training.   

We’ll see you back in Washington D.C. for PCC2021!

To say 2020 has been an eventful and tumultuous year for the life sciences industry is an understatement. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced sudden change in the way in which business is conducted and created a milieu of unforeseen compliance concerns. Those issues were certainly not lost on the presenters at the 2020 Virtual Pharmaceutical Compliance Congress as timely suggestions for managing the “new normal” were blended with more traditional content related to building and managing an effective compliance program. One presenter summarized it interestingly when she said, “the plan you prepared in January does not make sense with what you need to focus on now.”

The need for on-going risk assessment was repeated throughout the conference, beginning in the Enforcement Docket Deep Dive session with one U.S. Attorney commenting, “programs must be updated over time to align with changes in the business and changes in settlements.” That risk assessment includes the on-going analysis and evaluation of a training curriculum, particularly as the way in which the industry interacts with each other and with HCPs continues to evolve.

A Rush to Roll Out New Training

The rush to cover new topics based on updated policies for virtual interactions can lead to a convoluted curriculum and do more harm than good. Regularly scheduled, comprehensive curriculum analysis helps ensure ongoing training covers existing and new topics with the right audiences, at the right level of detail, with the proper frequency based on the level of risk – and that analysis should not be pushed aside solely for the sake of expediency.

A “risk level” analysis has always been a foundational step in identifying content gaps and the need for updates in the topics covered. 2020 is no exception as the pandemic has forced a change in the way field teams interact with HCPs and conduct support programs. During the session, Look at How In-House Legal and Compliance Departments are Evolving in 2020 to Help Address Business Challenges, one compliance officer succinctly put it, “The way in which we do business has changed, so policies need to be more precise and training must be more engaging.”

Curriculum analysis begins with documenting a detailed list of topics covered in current training materials versus those required by the shift to virtual engagements. (Incidentally, PhRMA’s Statement on Application of PhRMA Code Section 2 During Emergency Periods is a good starting point for those changes). Your documentation should specifically include the target audience for each topic and indicate the level of risk each topic represents for each audience, as well as the frequency and level of detail at which each topic is presented.

Following the documentation phase, an analysis is necessary to determine whether the level of training versus the risk for the audience is sufficient. As a final step, solutions to address gaps and redundancies can be planned as new topics are added to the curriculum.

Increasing Retention and Enhancing Learning

An effective training curriculum also requires ongoing “engagement evaluation” to ensure learning is maximized. Let’s face it, the sudden onslaught of new and updated policies on virtual interactions is causing confusion. During the Candid Conversations on Key Themes and Industry Insights session of the conference, more than one panelist cited the movement to virtual programs as the topic keeping them up at night. The variables abound, and just updating foundational training programs with new policies is risky and flawed. More novel methods of training (quizzes, gamification, microlearning, etc.) offer opportunities to integrate nuggets of information into the curriculum and cut through the clutter of change to help raise engagement levels.

One industry speaker highlighted this best when he said, “You need to give them the tools to deal with awkward situations in this new way of conducting business, like how to respond to off-label questions.” That tool list begins with updated training components deployed repeatedly and strategically across the learner’s timeline. The changes wrought by COVID-19 only heighten the need to evaluate your curriculum for its power to change individual behavior – especially with updates to policies and changes in SOPs happening at such an unforeseen rate.

Unsolicited Change

The unknown can be daunting. The writer and poet Raheel Farooq once wrote, “The greatest fear in life is not of death, but unsolicited change.” We, as an industry, a country, and a world, have certainly seen our share of unsolicited change this year and it wasn’t lost on the presenters at this year’s conference. Panelists were quick to admit they didn’t have all the answers in terms of how training, and compliance in general, should be managed in these tumultuous times, but that’s okay. I’m confident most attendees would agree that the opportunity to share concerns, questions, and ideas was worthwhile, valuable, and reassuring. Kudos to all the presenters and conference organizers for making the 2020 Pharmaceutical Compliance Congress such a success under such difficult circumstances. I look forward to attending the 2021 conference “live and in-person,” as I am sure do you.

Thanks for reading!

Sean Murphy
PharmaCertify By NXLevel Solutions

Dear Connie, the Compliance Training Specialist, Tackles Return-To-Work Policy Training

Welcome to “Dear Connie, the Compliance Training Specialist,” where we answer questions about compliance training topics and present solutions for strengthening your compliance culture and reducing risk.

This week: Don’t forsake the fundamentals when building return-to-work policy training.

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Dear Connie,

As my company considers reopening our offices under the threat of COVID-19, I’ve been asked to create training based on our new back to work policy. The policy covers precautionary measures (wearing a mask, hygiene, social distancing, etc.) as well as the potential risk factors (international travel, living with someone who has tested positive, sore throat, shortness of breath, etc.).

What type of training do you recommend based on this unique content? Obviously, face-to-face training is not plausible right now, but is one eLearning module enough for a topic this important?

Signed,

Cautious in California

Dear Cautious,

Great question! As the life sciences industry, and the country in general, plans a careful return to work, now is the time to finalize a training and communication plan to help maximize the safety and well-being of employees. A topic this important deserves not to be rushed and framing the challenge within the context of the ADDIE model is important.

Analysis

You don’t want to miss any instructional challenges on a topic like this one. For example, what are the different roles of the learners? Do you have to consider different training tools for office staff versus lab employees? How about field employees? What pre-existing knowledge does each group bring to the training? Only after you’ve established the learner groups and identified the challenges of reaching each of those groups, can you start to design the proper training.

Design

Now you need to establish the learning objectives and think about how the content will be structured and what tools will be utilized. I would certainly consider a campaign approach, perhaps starting with an eLearning module, followed by other learning nuggets, to make it more memorable and engaging. You may want to also consider on-site posters to reinforce key messages, like the need for employees to follow the rules on washing hands and not touching their faces.

Development

In a case like this, development extends well beyond just creating a storyboard for an introductory eLearning module. The content needs to be organized in a manner that maximizes the engagement for each group, as determined in the design phase. The tools and media utilized to emphasize key messages are important. Animated video, for example, is a popular trend, but you need to be careful the animation doesn’t present such serious content in an inappropriate or humorous manner.

Implementation

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that since this is critical to their safety and well-being, the learners are going to welcome the training with open arms and dive in enthusiastically. Implementing the training in a manner that optimizes retention is critical, perhaps more than ever. Consider the way in which lessons are “chunked” and delivered across each learner’s timeline.

Evaluation

Training intended to help employees learn the rules of returning to work during the COVID-19 crisis should be evaluated and adjusted accordingly. Gather feedback from the learners through surveys and personal outreach. You need to know it’s working, and you need to answer the learners’ questions. Consider sending out short updates as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issues new guidance. Don’t let the training get stale!

Summary

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the life sciences industry, but the fundamentals of memorable and effective training stay the same. Now is not the time to abandon those principles and practices to expedite the development and launch of new policy training. In fact, when faced with the challenges of ensuring the health and safety of employees, just the opposite is true.

My friends at NXLevel Solutions have over 15 years of experience developing policy training that improves retention of content and changes learner behavior. Contact Dan O’Connor at doconnor@nxlevelsolutions.com to ask how they can help ensure your “Return to Work” training helps maximize the safety of your company’s employees during these uncertain and crazy times.

Thanks for the question and stay safe!

Connie

In a Virtual Detailing World, the Rules Regarding Good Product Promotion Still Apply

Life sciences detailing has changed, even if only temporarily, but the rules and best practices related to good product promotion have not. As field sales teams acclimate themselves to the reality of meeting with healthcare professionals through virtual means, they need to ensure those rules aren’t lost in the milieu of that change.

For example, no matter the means by which promotional speech is delivered, the FDA defines it as “any affirmative statement about a prescription drug or medical device.” Regardless of format, promotional statements made while meeting with healthcare professionals must always be truthful and accurate.

Representatives must never exaggerate or mislead the healthcare professional regarding the use, safety profile, or any other aspects of the product and any statements made about a product must include the benefits and the risks associated with the use of the product. They must never overstate the effectiveness of the product, make efficacy claims not supported by substantial research or misrepresent clinical study data. Fair balance cannot be ignored just because a rep is not meeting with the healthcare professional in person.

Products may only be promoted for uses approved by the FDA. In fact, if a healthcare professional asks a representative about an unapproved or off-label use, the rep needs to refer the question to the medical affairs department and, even during a virtual visit, a rep must never steer a conversation with the intent of prompting the healthcare professional to ask an off-label question.

Now is not the time to let the emphasis on good and compliant product promotion slip through the cracks. Updated training and microlearning covering topics like promotional speech, the Bad Ad Program, the use of social media, off-label marketing, and the dissemination of reprints and scientific publications is more important than ever to keep field sales teams compliant and effective.

Thanks for reading!

Sean Murphy
PharmaCertify By NXLevel Solutions

Note: the training content shared in this post is from our Good Product Promotion eLearning module, one of the 26 customizable modules available in our Compliance Foundations suite.

 

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

The 2019 DOJ Guidance Document: A Baseline for Life Sciences Compliance Training

Sean Murphy
Product and Marketing Manager

One of the significant events of 2019 affecting life sciences compliance was the April release of a new guidance document, Evaluation of Corporate Compliance Programs, (https://www.justice.gov/criminal-fraud/page/file/937501/download) by the criminal division of the Department of Justice (DOJ).  The primary intent of the document is to guide prosecutors and courts as they evaluate corporate compliance programs, but it also serves as an important baseline for life sciences businesses evaluating all areas of their compliance programs, including the training curricula.

The guidance document highlights three questions for prosecutors to consider when evaluating a program:

  1. Is the corporation’s compliance program well designed?
  2. Is the program being applied in good faith?
  3. Does the corporation’s compliance program work in practice?

In this post, I examine the DOJ’s document in more detail, and discuss its implications for your compliance training curriculum.

Risk-Based Training

In reference to a “well-designed compliance program,” the DOJ stresses the need for prosecutors to focus on whether a company’s program is customized for the particular risk profile of that company. According to the guidance, prosecutors should “understand the company’s business from a commercial perspective, how the company has identified, assessed, and defined its risk profile, and the degree to which the program devotes appropriate scrutiny and resources to the spectrum of risk.” The company’s periodic training and certification should include all “directors, officers, relevant employees, and, where appropriate, agents and business partners.” In addition, training should be tailored to “audience size, sophistication, or subject matter expertise.”

In pursuit of these standards, foundational training is an effective method for providing a baseline, but additional risk-focused content continuously delivered to individual business units is one way to address that risk. As an example, scenario-based mini modules covering the topics highlighted in risk assessments and audits of the compliance hotline should follow the more comprehensive foundational training for each business unit to make it more relevant and engaging. In addition, microlearning nuggets in the form of quizzes, assessments, and contests have been proven to drive higher retention rates when delivered strategically across a learner’s calendar. Targeted, continuous learning covering the topics deemed critical to each business unit is the key to truly reducing risk.

Curriculum Analysis

On the topic of risk-based training, the DOJ recommends prosecutors ask, “What analysis has the company undertaken to determine who should be trained and on what subjects?” In line with that suggestion, a compliance curriculum analysis is a critical first step for any compliance professional interested in understanding the details of existing organizational training and it’s a necessary starting point for the reconfiguration of that curriculum to effectively address the risks. The categories covered in the analysis should include:

  • Training Type (eLearning, Live, Webinar)
  • Topic(s) Covered
  • Level of Training (Awareness, Detailed, General, etc.)
  • Length
  • Audience(s)
  • Risk Rating Per Audience (Low, Medium, High)

An instructional design analysis should also be included to determine if the proper learning objectives are established and followed, and the visuals, audio, navigation, and assessment are optimized for learning. The data should then be curated into a spreadsheet with sortable cells and columns to allow for an organized and multi-level review of all training programs and topics. At PharmaCertify, we use our Compliance Curriculum Analysis Tool, or CCAT, to assist our clients with this analysis. Once the CCAT is complete, we summarize to highlight the strengths, gaps, and redundancies in the overall curriculum.

Test and Test Again

The document also delves into the measurement of training effectiveness by encouraging prosecutors to ask if employees have been tested on what they learned and how the company has addressed employees who fail all or a portion of the testing. While the inclusion of standard assessments with each course is an assumed necessity, using assessments as learning tools has been shown to strengthen long-term memory.

A study by Jeffrey D. Karpicke and Henry Roediger III, of the Department of Psychology at Washington University revealed that learners are poor judges of what they remember, and when given the choice, they stop studying before they have mastered the subject. So even when they think they know it, they don’t, and assessments spaced repeatedly over time is the best method to increase the retention of critical compliance policies and best practices. When possible, alternative types of tests should also be deployed, including:

  • Pre- and post-training tests to measure gains scores
  • Priming assessments to encourage the formation of cognitive schema
  • Diagnostic assessments to help target remediation
  • Cumulative exams to encourage information retrieval and re-encoding

Effective Implementation, Review, and Revision

Finally, prosecutors are asked to consider whether a compliance program is a “paper program, or one implemented, reviewed, and revised, as appropriate in an effective manner.” This holds true not just for the program in general, but for the compliance training curriculum. Just as the corporation should “provide for a staff sufficient to audit, document, and analyze the results of the efforts,” the proper resources and time need to be dedicated to the evaluation of the current curriculum, with subsequent modifications conducted accordingly.

The DOJ’s Evaluation of Corporate Compliance Programs document refers to a compliance program’s capacity to evolve as a hallmark of its effectiveness. That evolution is necessary because “a company’s business changes over time, as do the environments in which it operates, the nature of its customers, the laws that govern its actions, and the applicable industry standards.” An effective life sciences compliance training curriculum must align the current business with the environment, customers, and laws, and now is the time to bring all of those components together.

I hope the insights above are helpful as you continue to improve your compliance training effectiveness throughout 2020. Thanks for reading!

 

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