So Many Anticorruption Laws, So Little Training Time

On January 12th, Zimmer Biomet reached a $30 million settlement with the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission over business activities in Mexico. A few days later, an $800 million multijurisdictional settlement was announced with Rolls-Royce. That case involved the United Kingdom, the United States and Brazil, with the UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) taking the investigative lead. Clearly, enforcement agencies around the globe remain committed to aggressively investigating and pursuing bribery cases.

In years past, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) was the primary enforcement tool for anticorruption efforts around the world, and companies were wise to focus their resources on that legislation. As the Rolls-Royce settlement reminds us though, other countries are actively pursuing enforcement of their own laws. Simply covering the requirements of the FCPA in ABAC training is no longer practical or advisable.

Our clients are in the process of developing or strengthening their ABAC programs, and training is an important part of their efforts. With the overall volume of compliance training rising every year, we offer a few tips for maximizing the impact of ABAC training.

  1. Address common concepts one time. Training should be structured to first address the common concepts across all anticorruption laws. For example, most laws define a “bribe” and a “foreign official” similarly and most define the same type of actions as illegal. In addition, most laws do not absolve companies of responsibility of actions conducted by third parties. There is no need to cover each of these concepts in conjunction with each law. Doing so makes the content redundant, and only serves to make the training more cumbersome and frustrating for the learners. By presenting this common content from a wider perspective, in context of all bribery laws and principles, you establish a base of knowledge as the starting point, before delving into the particulars associated with each of the laws.
  2. Address specific laws individually. The nuances from country to country are plentiful and can be tricky. For example, learners need to know that the FCPA includes a “books and records provision,” and the UKBA punishes a company for failure to prevent bribery. After the common concepts are sufficiently covered, training then needs to address the specific aspects of each law, separately. Otherwise, those details will be lost in a sea of definitions or concepts that the learners were already presented in relation to other laws.
  3. Reinforce key concepts and laws via micro-learning. On-going reinforcement is key. When developing training plans, integrate micro-learning tools like mini modules and learning sprints (mini assessments) across the learner’s timelines. As an example, topics that affect how the learners conduct their daily business activities need to be addressed through scenario-based, more targeted tools, not just in the foundational training.

As the list of global anticorruption laws has multiplied, we’ve put the principles into practice and updated our Compliance Foundations™ module, Global Anticorruption Laws, with the content restructured to maximize learner engagement. If you’re in the process of developing, or updating, your global anticorruption training, we’re happy to share a content outline of our module and speak with you about our experience. Just contact my colleague Dan O’Connor at doconnor@nxlevelsolutions.com.

Thanks for reading!

Lauren Barnett
Compliance Content Specialist
PharmaCertify™ by NXLevel Solutions

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: the 2016 Year-End Summary

Here we are again. Another 584 million-mile (940 million km for our metric friends) trip around the sun is nearly complete. It seems like just yesterday we were celebrating the beginning of 2016 and now we’re picking out our favorite brand of champagne to celebrate its end. Before we break out the noisemakers and party favors, let’s take one last nostalgic look back at some of the life sciences compliance-related developments of 2016.

A new milestone was reached regarding HCP spend disclosure. The first disclosure reports under the EFPIA Disclosure Code were released in 2016. Gaining disclosure authorization from individual HCPs proved to be a challenge for the industry and the numbers of doctors who granted authorization ranged widely between countries. According to Britain’s pharmaceutical trade association, ABPI, 70% of their HCPs granted authorization and in Ireland, just over half of HCPs did so. In other transparency developments, ten of Canada’s top drug firms announced plans to voluntarily disclose aggregate physician and healthcare organization payment data. The movement was started by GSK Canada, and other multinational firms including Abbvie, Purdue, BMS, and Lilly followed.

Drug pricing was a big story in 2016. Former CEOs from Turing and Valeant were called to testify before Congress about drug price hikes, and Mylan’s CEO was called to testify over dramatic increases in the cost of an EpiPen. Laws that would require drug companies to disclose information about their pricing decisions were proposed in several states, and a bill was introduced at the federal level with similar requirements. Even with those high profile stories making headlines, only one pricing disclosure law successfully passed this year – Vermont. That law requires a select group of manufacturers to provide information about the factors related to price increases.

A handful of former Insys employees had an eventful year. A former sales representative entered a guilty plea to charges of fraud, and a district sales manager and a several of top executives were all arrested on charges they paid kickbacks to doctors. The drug at the center of the charges is the opioid painkiller, fentanyl. Prosecutors and enforcement agencies claim the individuals offered a variety of kickbacks to doctors to increase prescriptions and encouraged them to prescribe it for unapproved uses.

2016 was an active year for settlements related to bribery cases. GSK, AstraZeneca, SciClone, and Novartis all entered into settlements with the SEC over activities conducted by subsidiaries in China. Orthofix and Teva both set aside cash in anticipation of resolving the FCPA-related charges. Olympus entered into a $22.8 million settlement with the DOJ to resolve charges that a subsidiary covering Latin America paid bribes to healthcare professionals working in government facilities in order to increase sales of product.

We saw a couple of legal “victories” for the industry in the debate over sharing truthful off-label information. In the Amarin case, the FDA decided not to appeal a judge’s decision that allowed the company to share truthful off-label information about its fish oil product. In addition, in proposed jury instructions for a medical device case, 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.”

With a string of legal decisions favoring the industry, the FDA held a public forum in November concerning the ability of drug and device makers to share off-label information. The primary topic was whether the agency needs to revise its regulations considering recent legal decisions and the forum was attended by various stakeholders representing both sides of the argument.

With that, we complete our look back at 2016 and the stories that made headlines in the world of life science compliance. It was an eventful year, and everyone at the Compliance News in Review is excited to see what the new year holds. Thanks for joining us throughout the year and best wishes for a happy, healthy, and compliant 2017!

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, October 14, 2016

Ghouls, goblins and ghosts galore…the haunting season is here! Enjoy it while you can, before you know it, reindeer, snowmen, and gingerbread men will be scattered across the landscapes. (Poor Thanksgiving…it gets no respect!) No tricks from us though, just treats. And by treats we mean delicious bites of news! So before you head out to wait for the Great Pumpkin, join us for this not-so-scary edition of the Compliance News in Review.

The FDA has carved out time for a public hearing on November 9th and 10th to discuss the subject of communicating off-label uses of drugs and devices. The agency hopes to hear from a variety of stakeholders, including industry representatives, healthcare professionals, patients, and research institutions. Approximately 30 topics will be discussed, ranging from the effect that increased communications will have on patient enrollment in clinical trials to how patients should be made aware that they are receiving information about an off-label use.

GSK is feeling a bit of a chill in the air. The company reached an agreement with the SEC to pay $20 million to resolve FCPA-related charges its Chinese subsidiary paid bribes to increase sales. As part of the settlement, GSK is also required to provide the SEC with reports regarding its implementation of anticorruption measures for the next two years.

Dermatologists are receiving lots of treats from the industry. A study of 2014 Open Payments data reveals that nearly three-quarters of the country’s dermatologists received payments in 2014. Most were under $50.00, but a few of the doctors received payments totaling more than $90,000.00. The study appears in JAMA Dermatology.

These are frightful times at Mylan as the company agrees to pay $465 million to settle claims it overcharged Medicaid for EpiPen. The company has come under intense fire for its pricing practices related to the product. In agreeing to the settlement, Mylan did not admit to wrongdoing.

The news of the FDA’s public hearing on communication related to the unapproved uses of drugs and devices is encouraging. Hopefully, after the forum, the agency will move quickly on the release of new guidance. As court decisions are discussed in the media and more public hearings are announced, now is a great time to reinforce appropriate promotional communication through the release of updated training.

With that, we close our autumnal edition of the Compliance News in Review. One final note – if you’re attending the Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Compliance Congress next week, stop by Booth 404 in the exhibit hall and say “boo!”

Thanks for reading and stay compliant!

Compliance News in Review, Ides of March Edition

BMS makes changes to its promotional spend policy in China, a physician is sentenced to prison for accepting kickbacks, and the FDA agrees to allow Amarin to promote its fish oil drug for off-label purposes.

“Beware the Ides of March,” and with good reason. Not only was Julius Caesar assassinated during the Ides, but Czar Nicholas II abdicated his throne, the Nazi’s occupied Czechoslovakia, and the issuance of global health alert concerning the SARS virus all occurred on that infamous date. While plenty of good things probably happened as well, we’re stocking up on horseshoes and four leaf clovers here at the News in Review headquarters, just in case. As we wait for the clock to tick down on March 15th, let’s look at the fortunes of those who made news in the world of compliance, with this edition of the News in Review (fingers crossed it isn’t all bad).

Advice from a soothsayer isn’t necessary for BMS to make changes to its promotional spending policy in China. The company will no longer pay speaker fees to doctors, and will be cutting is spending on entertainment and donations to medical associations due to red flags identified in its Chinese operations. This is second wave of changes for BMS in China, following the company’s settlement with the SEC over violations of the FCPA.

Misfortune has certainly followed one Chicago doctor into March. Dr. Michael Reinstein was sentenced to nine months in prison for accepting kickbacks when issuing prescriptions for clozapine. The doctor admitted to accepting close to $600,000 in kickbacks for prescribing the drug. The defense requested probation, but the judge rejected the request, saying Dr. Reinstein’s patients were among the most vulnerable in society and he violated the trust of those patients when he accepted the kickbacks.

The news isn’t all bad in the Ides, though. The FDA has agreed to allow Amarin to promote its fish oil drug for off-label purposes. Amarin filed suit against the FDA claiming the agency was violating its free speech rights by trying to restrict the company from sharing truthful off-label information in its promotion of the drug. The FDA agreed to be bound by the decision issued in US District Court, which allowed the truthful off-label promotion of the drug. The agency says “the settlement is specific to this particular case and situation, and does not signify a position on the First Amendment and commercial speech.”

As witnessed by the FDA’s statement on the Amarin settlement, a definitive stance regarding the use of off-label information when promoting a product seems to still be a moving target. While companies and legal-types debate how this decision, and other free-speech cases, should be interpreted and applied, we see it as another opportunity to highlight all the legal requirements around product promotion. Providing fair-balance, making accurate, truthful and not-misleading statements are just as important when promoting a prescription drug or device. As an example, notice of violation letters sent by OPDP in recent years typically site inaccurate and misleading statements as the reason for the notice.

With that, we put a green ribbon on this “pre” Saint Patrick’s Day edition of the Compliance News in Review. Here’s hoping the Ides treat you well. Have a great week everyone and stay compliant!

Compliance News in Review, February 15, 2016

Ah, l’amour! It is the stuff of literature, song, poetry, and this time of year, greeting cards galore. Some might refer to Valentine’s Day as a “Hallmark Holiday,” but any day that makes the consumption of chocolate practically mandatory is okay by us. Valentine’s Day…a day to do something special for that special someone and/or the special people in your life. While it may not be as exciting as the dozen roses or heart-shaped box of candy you received, we offer a valentine of our own, with this edition of the Compliance News in Review.

If the cliché, “sharing is caring,” is true, CMS is ready for life sciences companies to commence with their annual caring. The Open Payments system is now accepting registrations, registration certification, and data submissions.

Sweet nothings, or any other comments for that matter, were definitely not whispered by Martin Shrkeli at a recent Congressional hearing into extreme drug price increases by his former company, Turing. Shrkeli was questioned and lectured by members of Congress, but he continually stated that he was invoking his Fifth Amendment right to not incriminate himself by testifying. Following the hearing, he took to Twitter, where he referred to the members of Congress as “imbeciles.” Valeant Pharmaceuticals CEO, Howard Schiller, did testify, and spoke of efforts his company was making to respond to the outrage over extreme price increases.

We just received a veritable bouquet of bills from the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee. The Committee passed seven bills as part of the House of Representatives’ 21St Century Cures. The seven bills are intended to increase funding for medical innovation and streamline requirements for new drug approvals. HELP members spend the better part of year deadlocked over increased NIH funding and regulatory changes for drug approvals, so chairman Lamar Alexander created the smaller measures to move the process forward.

It’s all candy hearts and flowers now between SciClone and the SEC. The company reached a $12.8 million settlement agreement with the SEC to resolve allegations it violated the FCPA. The DOJ chose not to pursue charges following its investigation. The allegations centered on the company’s actions in China. The government claimed the company provided gifts and travel for corrupt intent, failed to conduct proper due diligence of travel vendors who were used to funnel bribes to government officials, and failed to conduct an effective internal investigation when t learned of instances of bribery.

The SciClone case points out the need for a robust anticorruption program. SciClone employees provided gifts, travels and expensive meals to government officials and their family members with a corrupt intent, and a vendor provided bribes as well. Due diligence and proper monitoring are key pieces of any anti-bribery program, but so is training. In-depth anticorruption training needs to be deployed to employees, vendors, and any third-party agents conducting business on the company’s behalf. Anyone who represents a company must understand who is considered a government official, what constitutes a bribe, and the types of activities that raise red flags. This is particularly important for pharmaceutical and medical device companies since healthcare professionals may fall under the broad umbrella of a government official. The feds are adding additional headcount to focus on FCPA investigations, so now is the time to evaluate, re-energize, and re-boot anticorruption training.

Have a great week everyone!