Compliance News in Review, June 13, 2017

States with new laws, lawsuits and more; HHS says drug pricing is a top issue; the AMA takes aim at DTC ads again; and transparency efforts and more from Europe…all in this edition of the Compliance News in Review.

The magic, mystery, and “monstering” of the summer movies season is in full swing! From super-heroes to lush gothic tales, there’s something for everyone this summer. There’s nothing like escaping to the theater on a rainy summer day. Can’t you just smell the popcorn and taste the Milk Duds? Before you head off to take in the latest blockbuster or art house feature, silence your cell phone and enjoy this screening of the latest edition of the Compliance News in Review.

We begin with a trilogy of compelling releases. The Nevada legislature passed a bill that would have required makers of diabetes drugs to report drug pricing information to the State. The bill was forwarded to the governor, who promptly vetoed it. Undaunted, State senators revised the bill; removing the requirements to which the governor objected and adding provisions that apply to all drug manufacturers. It was passed, and in an ending fit for Hollywood, the governor has said he is “proud to sign” the new bill. The law will require manufacturers to report pricing for diabetes drugs, and all manufacturers must now supply a list of sales representatives who work in the State. Additionally, all transfers of value from Nevada sales representative to HCPs must be reported each year, including those to mid-level practitioners and office staff.

It’s a wrap on a new law concerning generic drug pricing in Maryland. Generic drug makers will now be fined when a price increase causes a product’s wholesale acquisition price (WAC) to increase by more than 50% in one year, or if the drug’s WAC is greater than $80. Maryland’s expressed concern that the bill did not address the cost of patented drugs and devices, and that it may result in citizens not having access to some generic drugs. Concerns aside, the governor did not veto the bill. The law will go into effect October 1.

The Washington D.C. Department of Health has posted several FAQs related to AccessRx. The FAQs cover a variety of issues including reporting timelines, advertising expenses, and gift reporting.

HHS Secretary, Dr. Tom Price, says drug pricing is a coming attraction for the agency. In testimony before the senate budget committee, Price said the president has directed him to develop proposals to lower drug costs. He also said meetings with stakeholders have already taken place.

This attraction is rated “P” for pricing. At the AMA’s annual meeting, the group will consider a proposal urging drug manufacturers to list drug prices in DTC ads. The proposal was introduced by several New England medical societies, and advocates who have been pushing federal agencies, such as the Federal Trade Commission and the FDA, to compel drug companies to include retail pricing information in DTC ads. The proposal will need to be approved by the American Medical Association’s House of Delegates before being presented to the larger body.

From the foreign film division, a story of transparency. German doctors will be able to voluntarily disclose payments they receive from drug companies in a database managed by the non-profit journalism group, Correctiv. According to a study conducted by Correctiv, 71,000 German doctors received 575 million Euros worth of payments from the industry last year. The study also found that only 29% of doctors were willing to have their payment information published.

Two companies have been publicly reprimanded for breaches of the ABPI Code of Practice. In one case, a media agency published the work it did for the company to promote the agency’s creative capabilities. The work was out-of-date and no longer accurate. Even though the company did not give the agency permission to publish the work, and voluntarily reported the incident, it was found to have violated Clause 2 of the Code of Practice; bringing discredit upon and reducing confidence in the industry. In the other breach, another company was reprimanded for distributing a patient support leaflet with inaccurate and misleading information. The company was asked to issue a corrective statement to the healthcare providers who had already received the leaflet.

The last story is a good reminder of the importance of making sure your compliance training extends to vendors and other third parties. In bribery cases, we see the damage that can be caused when third parties run afoul of laws and regulations. Vendors and other third parties need to be evaluated for the risk associated with their services and targeted training should be provided based on that risk.

With that, we roll the closing credits on this edition of the Compliance News in the Review. Thanks for reading. We’ll see you at the movies!

Compliance News in Review, January 27, 2017

The Serious Fraud Office leads the charge on Rolls-Royce’s multi-jurisdictional bribery settlement; the FDA releases new draft guidance; and a new transparency law is on the way in Maine.

While most obscure, strange, and funny “holidays” may be dismissed as whimsy, and fodder for creative water cooler conversations, Chocolate Cake Day is one that we here at the News in Review celebrate with vigor and enthusiasm. From Devil’s Food to Black Forest, we look forward to marking the occasion with more than one variation on theme. In fact, why not just make a weekend of it? Meanwhile, if a day dedicated to the splendors of chocolate cake isn’t sweet enough for you, we offer a delectable morsel of a different type, with this edition of the Compliance News in Review.

Rolls-Royce is getting its just desserts on three continents. The company recently entered into a $800 million multi-jurisdictional settlement with the UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO), the Department of Justice (DOJ) in the U.S. and Brazil’s Ministério Público Federal, to resolve charges it paid bribes to foreign officials in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, South America and Asia. In a twist on the usual tale, the SFO, not the DOJ was the agency spearheading the investigation. In addition to the financial penalties paid to each country, Rolls-Royce entered into deferred prosecution agreements with the U.K. and US governments, and a leniency agreement with Brazil.

The FDA is working on a new recipe for sharing healthcare economic information (HCEI). The agency released draft guidance for the sharing of HCEI with payors, formulary committees and similar entities. The guidance includes questions and answers about sharing HCEI related to investigational products with payors. The comment period for the draft guidance began January 17 and will remain open for 90 days.

On the state level, a legislator in Maine read a newspaper report about the increase in promotional spending by companies that manufacture opiods, and decided to introduce a law intended to curtail gifts from the industry to physicians. The language in the bill is based on the Minnesota gift prohibition law

Anticorruption efforts around the world are moving full steam ahead in 2017 and the fact that the SFO is spearheading investigational efforts presents a new twist. We don’t know yet if this is the start of a new trend, but we do know the SFO has the means to investigate and resolve large cases like the one with Rolls-Royce. Since the passage of the UK Bribery Act in 2011, the news around potential investigations has been quiet, but that is clearly changing. Like the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the UK Bribery Act has a wide reach.

Now is the time to review the training components of your anticorruption program to ensure employees, vendors and other third parties are being trained regularly about bribery laws and your company’s policies. Is that training engaging and based on real-world scenarios? Is deployment spaced over time to maximize effectiveness and retention? Have you mixed in smaller, more-focused micro-learning to reinforce topics like “identifying red flags?” Taking proactive steps now will strengthen help reduce risk and strengthen your culture around the globe for years to come.

With that, we put the wraps on this tasty edition of the Compliance News in Review. Until next time, we say, “let them (and us) eat cake!”

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!

Compliance News in Review, December 12, 2016

If you’re dancing “The Beagle,” and you can’t break away from all of the movies starring Candace Cameron Bure on the Hallmark Channel, it can only mean one thing; it’s Christmas time! Despite what Staples would have you believe, THIS is the Most Wonderful Time of the Year. Before you fill your heads with dreams of sugarplums, we have a quick yuletide tale to share. Gather round friends to hear the tome; our newsy, Compliance News in Review Christmas poem.

T’was the News before Christmas, and all through the land,

Our readers waited for the first story at hand.

The story was chosen with the utmost of care,

In the hopes of bringing joy and not causing despair.

In Congress a healthcare bill was just passed,

But not without a change that left some hopes dashed.

Despite efforts to exempt, companies will still report

Payments for textbooks, reprints and speaking fees of a sort.

Senators exclaimed the payments we must heed

With the exemption removed, the bill passed with ease.

With the healthcare bill passed and well on its way,

We will move on to news from Californ-i-a.

Away went a bill in the last governing session,

Requiring disclosure of drug pricing information.

Not one to give up, an intrepid senator said,

“I’ll make minor changes. This bill is not dead!”

Change his bill he did, and returned it to the floor.

Companies must report price hikes of 25% or more. (if passed)

Then over at Teva there arose such a clatter!

We wondered out loud what could be the matter?

After one bribery investigation and setting aside cash

A tip came in – to Romania Teva should dash!

Bribes of travel and consulting fees were paid.

Teva is investigating all of these claims.

On the “nice” list of St. Nick we all hope to be,

But this group of execs will be found on “naughty.”

Six from Insys were arrested for inducements

Paid to docs to write scripts for unapproved uses.

The former CEO is one of the six, yes really.

His lawyer exclaimed he would plead “not guilty.”

Others in trouble are from marketing and sales.

Don’t buy the business is the moral of this tale.

With that last story our tale must come to an end.

We’ve enjoyed sharing it with you our dear friends.

So until we return with more news and insights,

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Notes and News from the Seventeenth Annual Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Compliance Congress

If the overriding theme of the Seventeenth Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Compliance Congress could be summed up in three phrases, they might be “partnering with the businesses,” “a seat at the table,” and “a principles-based approach to compliance.” On that last one – note the change from “values-based approach” to “principles-based approach.”

Watching recent conferences (and the industry in general) evolve to the point where these themes are at the forefront is refreshing and encouraging. As someone who has worked in life sciences compliance training for ten years, I’ve looked forward to the shift to an all-inclusive approach that considers all ideas and voices in the organization, and ultimately leads to the creation of more valuable and engaging compliance training. Below are a few of my observations and highlights from this year’s conference. The conference organizers offer the opportunity to purchase an archive of individual sessions or the full conference at www.pharmacongress.com. You can preview video clips of those sessions at www.pharmacongress.com/post-con-individual.html.

CCO Roundtable

The Chief Compliance Officer Roundtable on Day 1 featured industry leaders sharing lessons on building and executing a modern and effective compliance program. The panel included representatives from both the pharmaceutical and medical device industries and the conversation focused on two concepts: the practice of thinking from a perspective of risk (the “gestalt of risk,” as one panelist defined it), and the need to focus on what is meaningful to the business when developing and executing a compliance example. One speaker used the example of monitoring sample dates, and how that practice is not necessarily worthwhile to the business. That same panelist emphasized the need for hiring individuals with business experience when staffing compliance positions. Another looked at compliance training as what employees “should stop doing based on prioritized risk.”

Finally, one panelist stressed “prevention” over “detection” and how his staff uses data analytics to help identify problems based on the area of risk. “Defining guardrails, and risk tolerance, is necessary to get out in front of the issues,” he said.

FCPA Enforcement

During the FCPA Enforcement Panel, Joseph Beemsterboer, JD of the Department of Justice, Terry Price, JD of the SEC, and Gejaa Gobena, JD, of Hogan Lovells, discussed the growing number of cases related to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. To this point in Fiscal 2016, 24 FCPA cases have been filed, 6 of them against pharmaceutical companies. 85-90% of the 24 cases were related to conduct in China. Pharmaceutical and medical device industries represent such a significant portion of these cases because large numbers of their employees must interact with foreign officials, according to one of the presenters.

Anti-bribery

Day 2 opened with a much-anticipated session titled Behind the Bribe: Multiple Real-World Perspectives on How Foreign Bribery Occurs, Is Investigated, and Could Be Prevented. Regulators emphasized that anti-bribery remains an area of focus, “we are still seeing the same behaviors, and issues with gifts, travel, and entertainment,” according to one panelist. The FBI representative made it clear that the Agency is “committed to going after global bribery” and the “storm that is coming” will focus on the prosecution of individuals. “Culture is critical,” he said, “just publishing a video from the CEO doesn’t cut it anymore.”

The panel included former executive, Richard Bistrong, who spent time in prison for conspiring to bribe officials to win contracts from the United Nations, and spent 2.5 years as a government witness. Mr. Bistrong stressed the need for diligence as foreign cultures can be misleading. Distributors will often sign FCPA documents, then do something else in the practice. “Don’t let get the business done, drown out how to get the business done,” was one of his key points.

First Amendment Update

During the Truthful and Non-Misleading Communications and Recent First Amendment Cases session, a panel of industry attorneys discussed and debated the ambiguity regarding off-label promotion in FDA policy. After revealing the reasoning behind the FDA’s policy (patient safety and advancement of science), a lively discussion led to speculation that the Agency’s recent public hearing and announcement in the Federal Register signals gridlock and tension among leadership. This lack of direction is what led companies such as Amarin and Pacira to believe they needed to litigate their cases, according to one attorney. The session closed with the moderator asking each panelist if he or she thought the FDA would publish any clear guidance in the next year. The responses ranged from “I just don’t know,” to “highly unlikely,” to “no, they’re not.” Don’t expect clarification anytime soon folks.

Managed Markets

The Compliance Considerations for the Managed Markets Business opened with panelists first defining their definition of managed markets and how it differed for each of their companies. The bottom line was that no matter the particulars, it is defined as the functions responsible for “ensuring patients have access to the therapies the physicians write.” One industry representative said her company defines healthcare professionals to include anyone paying for the products, and another included anyone who can influence prescribing decisions – making compliance policies and the regulations pertinent to the managed markets business.

The expanded movement to the use of specialty pharmacies creates more risk, according to the panel, and companies are thinking about those issues in more detail after Novartis’ Corporate Integrity Agreement was made public. Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs), Patient Assistant Programs (PAPs) and Reimbursement HUBs were covered as well, with the panelists stressing that government is starting to examine the relationships established through these entities, and companies need to be aware that laws never meant for managed markets are now being applied to that sector of the industry. As an example, one panelist mentioned, “the data that goes back and forth with charities is a risk area, and measures need to be put in place to ensure it is not used inappropriately by anyone involved with the data.” The session ended with a compelling question from the audience, “how do you ensure copay cards aren’t used for off-label purposes?” The answer came down to extensive monitoring to make sure that anyone who was supposed to be excluded was indeed excluded.

Compliance Training

As the compliance training division of NXLevel Solutions, the PharmaCertify™ team is always eager to attend sessions such as this conference’s What’s New for Training Programs. Since our mission is to help life sciences companies strengthen their compliance cultures and reduce risk, we are always encouraged to hear pharmaceutical and medical device professionals espousing techniques that support that goal. This session was no exception. While each company varied in the particular details, the panelists’ remarks made it clear that a true movement toward a blended approach to compliance, spread across a learner’s timeline, is growing. As one professional described it, “training to the right people, with the right content, the right amount of times.”

While panelists varied on the degree of live training over computer-based training, most agreed that the use of small vignettes, or small “bursts of information,” as one described them, are critical. The live training options included a Family Feud type game rolled out on a regular basis to streaming scenarios. The millennial generation was referenced, and the need for mentoring programs and live training that makes millennials’ transition into the industry a more compliant one.

Training content was a focal point, with one panelist stating “you have to make the content relevant, so people can do their jobs,” as he stressed the need to survey the learners on what else they actually want to learn about, along with questions about whether or not they feel more knowledgeable and if they have the support of their managers.

And let’s not forget about culture and tone of the organization – at the top, middle, and bottom. For example, training needs to emphasize that employees should feel comfortable reporting violations and asking questions.

The PharmaCertify™ compliance training professionals and subject matter experts are always anxious to discuss your compliance training curriculum and plans. To discover how we can help evolve your approach to training, contact Dan O’Connor at doconnor@nxlevelsolutions.com or visit http://www.pharmacertify.com/ to learn more about our products and services.

Compliance 2.0

It’s time for “partnering with the business” and “a seat at the table!” During the Compliance 2.0: Shared Ownership of Effective Compliance Across Business Functions presentation, six panelists (representatives from compliance and business) detailed case studies on how their companies made compliance concepts and programs more concrete and effective. Throughout each example, the importance of bringing the business into the planning from the start was stressed. One team who used the development of a new monitoring tool as their example said, “you have to know and understand the business in order to build a tool that meets their needs as well as your needs.”

One particularly interesting panelist was recently added to his company’s compliance team from the field, as part of the organization’s efforts to foster a strategic relationship between the business and compliance. He represented a compelling example of how that type of program is an opportunity to “infuse ethics and compliance into the company when the business pulls him back,” as he effectively put it. As another eloquently stated, “we have to raise our business partner’s compliance IQ and we can’t do that by ourselves.”

“Access to leadership” was referenced as a key component of Compliance 2.0, as more than one panelist discussed the need for those involved to feel comfortable questioning everything from leadership as the initiatives got started.

Beyond Transparency

My final breakout session was Beyond Transparency: HCP Interaction Risk Management. The session was centered on the use of data and how the transparency data can be used to track issues, then leveraging the auditing results to enhance policies and create more training. One panelist addressed it succinctly when he said, “our goal is to get to the point to where we use data to identify issues faster.” Another used the example of speaker programs and how the data could be used to raise questions about the number of times an individual HCP attended a speaker program, and raise the question of whether that was a concern.

The audience was reminded that “transparency isn’t just TOV data, it refers to sample data as well, and there is a need to overlay sample data with TOV data to reveal more than occasional interactions with one HCP.”

With representatives from both large and small companies on the panel, much of the discussion centered on the tools needed to keep the data organized and up-to-date. One panelist summarized it nicely, “when you do your hiring, make sure you find a person with excellent Microsoft Excel skills.”

The Evolution of Compliance Programs

The first presentation during the closing plenary session, Driving the Evolution of Compliance Programs into Systems Supporting Business Integrity, covered the oft-referenced theme of a “principles-based approach to compliance.” Representatives from three different companies touted the benefits of moving away from a “rules-based approach.”

As a foundation, in a principles-based system, decisions are not based on policy, but more on how individuals think and make decisions. “They need to be given the skills to make decisions,” according to one Vice President of Compliance, and “they need to be empowered to make those decisions and it’s a cultural shift for all stakeholders.” This is approach requires “a high level of trust and respect by leadership for the rank and file,” one panelist noted; and, he pointed out, writing shorter and more concise policies associated with such an approach takes discipline and time – quoting Winston Churchill, he referenced, “I would have written a much shorter speech if I had the time.”

The shift isn’t an easy one and the panelists stressed the need to “get leadership’s buy-in and help them see that a rules-based policy was holding the company back and the new policy will help patients, caregivers, and shareholders.” When an audience member asked “what kind of practical training would you offer to support such a shift,” the panel responded with “go back to the guiding principles of honor, trust, and integrity.”

Summary

While we weren’t able to attend all the sessions at the Seventeenth Annual Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Compliance Congress, we couldn’t help but be impressed with the level of content the conference provided to an audience hungry for any best practices and advice they could garner from their colleagues and subject matter experts. From a vendor standpoint, the foot traffic on the exhibit floor was steady and we appreciated the unique opportunity to engage current and prospective clients in meaningful conversation about their compliance programs and how we can help strengthen their compliance culture and reduce risk.

I welcome your thoughts and feedback. Please contact me at smurphy@nxlevelsolutions.com.

Thanks for reading and stay compliant!

Sean Murphy, Product and Marketing Manager, PharmaCertify™ by NXLevel Solutions

Compliance News in Review, February 1, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The 2015 Compliance Year in Review (and Look Forward to the Rest of 2016)

The start of 2016 may be filled with hope for good compliance-related news to come, but before we travel too far forward with our prognostications, let’s take a look back at some of the stories that really struck a chord in 2015. Charge up your flux capacitor everyone, as we travel back a few weeks and months, with this edition of the Compliance News in Review: the Yearly Edition.

In 2015, a full year’s worth of data was submitted to the Open Payments program. Considering the rejection of massive amounts of 2014 data, as well as the registration issues and delays that plagued the first Open Payments data submission period, system users certainly had cause to be concerned about the 2015 period. Happily, CMS made improvements, and the process, while not problem free, was smoother in 2015. The agency improved its validated physician list for manufacturers and its data matching processes, which resulted in fewer records being rejected. The improvements in the registration process seemed to help manufacturers, but did little to improve the physician experience.

CMS announced additional improvements that will hopefully improve users’ experience in 2016, including the removal of limitations around entering special characters in text fields, and improving users’ downloading capabilities.

The life sciences industry certainly pushed the free speech issue with the FDA in 2015. Two companies filed suits against the agency, arguing that they had the right to truthfully promote drugs for off-label uses. In the Amarin suit, the court granted an injunction, and the company is free to promote the drug for use in a wider patient population than the drug was originally approved.

On the heels of that case, Pacira filed suit over the FDA’s insistence that the company was promoting a pain killer for post-surgery pain, an unapproved use.  After the company received a warning letter, stating that drug was only approved for use following a specific type of surgery, Pacira argued that the FDA was illegally trying to narrow the approved use. The company also argued that even if it was promoting the drug for an off-label purpose, it had the right to do so, as long as it was sharing truthful information. The FDA quietly removed the warning letter from its website and eventually settled the case.

After years of chatter, but very little visible action, the Serious Fraud Office entered into its first deferred prosecution agreement with a corporate entity, over violations of the U.K. Bribery Act. Standard Bank was accused of failing to prevent bribery by an allied person. The DPA remains in effect for three years and requires the bank to pay $32.6 million; submit to a review of its anti-bribery policies by an independent reviewer and make any changes recommended by the reviewer; and cooperate with authorities in any other matters that arise from the indictment.

The year was devoid of multi-billion dollar settlements in the industry, but 2015 did see the largest settlement by the OIG under its civil monetary penalty authority. The OIG settled with Sandoz for $12.64 million over allegations the company submitted inaccurate ASP data to the Medicare program. The agency alleged that the company submitted inaccurate data between 2010 and 2012, which “undermined the integrity of the Medicare Part B drug pricing system.”

Any worthwhile year-end retrospective needs to include a look forward. So here are the issues that we think will be hot topics in 2016:

  1. Drug pricing transparency. In 2015, several states proposed laws that would require companies to disclose costs for drugs that run in the thousands of dollars per-dose or course of treatment. This push isn’t likely to go away, considering recent dramatic drug price hikes by companies like Valeant and Turing, which resulted in inquiries by lawmakers in the latter part of the year.
  2. Transparency in Europe. Staying on the transparency theme, we expect physician spend reporting in Europe to be a prominent news story toward the middle of the year. The first round of reporting under the EFPIA Transparency Code is due then, and the first round is sure to be thoroughly dissected and analyzed.
  3. Individual accountability. In September of 2015, the Department of Justice released a memo from Deputy Attorney General Sally Quillian Yates saying the agency plans to focus on holding individuals accountable in cases of corporate crime. Not exactly earth shattering news, but the DOJ has put it in writing, so they must really, really mean it. Whether the agency brings a case against an individual in 2016 or not, the policy is sure to be widely discussed by federal prosecutors and other agency representatives at conferences throughout the year.

Have a great 2016 everyone! We’ll see you at CBI’s Pharmaceutical Compliance Congress January 26 and 27.

Compliance News in Review, November 16, 2015

The OIG 2016 Work Plan is released, the House of Representatives form a task force to combat rising drug costs, a Massachusetts HCP is indicted in the Warner Chilcott case, and CMS releases informational charts to help clear Open Payments confusion.

He’s an international man of mystery, who’s licensed to kill, and he is back in theaters for you viewing pleasure. He’s Bond, James Bond. The latest installment of the series, Spectre, has hit theaters. The reviews are mixed, but hey, all we ask out of a Bond film is a good vodka martini (shaken, not stirred), spectacular gadgets, and a good chase sequence or two. Whilst we check local screening times, we’ll leave you with our own top secret document to peruse, this edition of the Compliance News in Review.

For Your Eyes Only, it’s the OIG 2016 Work Plan. Okay, it may not be top secret, but the 2016 plan is out and it reveals some interesting news for pharma and med device companies. You may recall that in the 2015 Work Plan, the OIG said it would review the financial interests reported under the Open Payments Program. In this year’s Plan, the agency has slightly revised this initiative (revision in bold):

“We will determine the number and nature of financial interests that were reported to CMS under the Open Payments Program. We will also determine the extent to which CMS oversees manufacturers’ and group purchasing organizations’ (GPOs’) compliance with data reporting requirements and whether the required data for physician and teaching hospital payments are valid.

Previously, the Work Plan stated the OIG would review whether the required data was reported “accurately and completely displayed in the publicly available database.”

U.S. House and Senate members have no Quantum of Solace regarding drug prices in wake of some recent high profile drug price hikes. In the House, a group of Democrats have formed the Affordable Drug Pricing Task Force to pursue “meaningful action to combat the skyrocketing costs of pharmaceuticals.” In the Senate, the Special Committee on Aging is set to investigate large spikes in drug prices. The Committee sent letters to Valeant, Turing Pharmaceuticals and two other companies for information regarding recent large increases in drugs sold. The Committee also requested a face-to-face meeting with the CEO of Turing. Both Valeant and Turing have also received subpoenas from federal prosecutors regarding their drug pricing policies.

A Massachusetts gynecologist was indicted on several different charges including a count of violating the Federal Anti-kickback Statute in connection with Warner Chilcott case. The indictment also seeks criminal forfeiture of $23,500. If found guilty, the doctor could face up to 11 years in prison and fines up to $325,000.

CMS won’t Never Say Never Again to the inclusion of Open Payments data on the Physician Compare website , but it is a no for now. After receiving comments and some consumer testing, it was determined the data is different that data presented on the Physician Compare website. CMS will continue to conduct tests with consumers to determine how best to frame the data.

In the past, the hierarchy associated with teaching hospitals has confused The Living Daylights out of reporting organizations that try to determine how to report payments in the Open Payments system. CMS hoped to clear the confusion by providing a couple of during a recent webinar. One chart is intended to help reporting organizations determine when and how to report payments to teaching hospitals. The other is an organizational chart to help show how the various entities roll up to a teaching hospital on the CMS teaching hospital list. Other topics covered during the webinar included record validation changes for 2015, and how to report stock and stock options as forms of payment.

CMS has been working diligently to improve the Open Payments system. The recent news of improvements offers a good reminder for companies to survey their programs, to make sure  all of the pertinent information related to the changes is being communicated. While the process of preparing systems to handle those changes is important, stakeholders such as sales, R&D, and vendors also need to be aware of how those changes affect their interactions with customers. On-going training is critical.

Well, that’s all the compliance news fit to blog for this edition. Have a great week everyone!