Week in Review, August 19, 2014

The widespread use of DPAs and NPAs in bribery cases raises legal concerns, CMS shuts down Open Payments to correct data problems and subsequently announces it will actually withhold one third of the data until June 2015.

Can you feel it? The air is heavy with despair. It may be faint, but the smell of newly sharpened pencils and mimeograph ink (remember that stuff?) is in the air. It’s back to school time! If you need help figuring out what to buy for Junior’s backpack this year, the trusty editors at Good Housekeeping have created a series of school shopping lists divided by grade level. You may be surprised to see tissues and hand sanitizers on there, along with the staples like pencils and glue sticks. Don’t forget the hand sanitizer and tissues!

To go this year started, we begin with a little reading assignment of our own. Put your thinking caps on class, it’s time for this week’s News Week in Review (and most of this will be on the test).

Corporate Bribery + Prosecution Agreement = End to Case. According to a recent Forbes article, the widespread use of Deferred Prosecution Agreements and Non-Prosecution Agreements in bribery cases is troubling from a legal standpoint. Using DPAs and NPAs leads to the charges being untested in court and self-reporting can do more harm than good. The authors argue that companies or individuals are better off fighting untrue or exaggerated claims, rather than opting for the settlement route.

No school year would be complete without a little drama, and thanks to Open Payments we have quite the soap opera to tell. Days after physicians and teaching hospitals were able to access Open Payments to review the data reported about them, at least one physician found that payments from another physician with the same name were showing up on his report. CMS subsequently shutdown the Open Payments portal for physicians and teaching hospitals. The shutdown dragged on for eleven days before the portal was reopened, and so far, so good. CMS extended the review and dispute period for physicians and teaching hospitals to September 8. The public website will still be available on September 30th.

All’s Well that Ends Well, right? No so quicketh, faire reader. The malady was resolved, but hark, hear now cometh a report that all information will be revealed not! (okay, we apologize for the rough attempt at Shakespearean English) CMS has announced that due to data inconsistencies, it will withhold one-third of Sunshine data from the public website. The records are being returned to the submitters to address issues of data intermingling. The data will be released in the June 2015 publication. In addition to clearing up the errant records, CMS replaced a confusing error that appeared when a search yielded no payments for a physician or teaching hospital.

As the bell rings on this edition of the Compliance News Week in Review, we dismiss you with the reminder that the PharmaCertify™ suite of eLearning modules and mobile apps offer the up-to-date information your staff when and where they need it most – in the field and at their fingertips.

Have a great week everyone!

Week in Review, April 21, 2014

The European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations increases its education efforts, GSK conducts internal bribery investigations, FCPA experts warn of increasing scrutiny and some restaurants look for creative solutions to changing pharmaceutical company requirements.

May is almost upon us, and you know what that means…so is the summer movie season! It’s a time marked by seemingly endless blockbusters and family movies, released on a weekly basis. Captain America: The Winter Soldier “sort of” represented the unofficial start of the season, and in a matter of weeks, the parade of superhero, wacky comedies, sci-fi thrillers and animated family films will begin in earnest. Hollywood’s big blockbuster may be still be a week or two away, but we have a little entertainment of our own to share, with this week’s News in Review.

Coming soon to a global theater near you: physician payment disclosure. The European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) is rolling out an education program to help companies prepare for its financial disclosure requirements. In January, companies will have to collect, and subsequently disclose, payments made to healthcare professionals and healthcare organizations. The education program, which will include webinars, leaflets and videos, will focus on current best practices and highlight how companies across Europe are preparing for the disclosures.

Look for sequels to be a popular choice for audiences this summer (How to Train Your Dragon 2, 22 Jump Street), but don’t expect GSK to be excited about another sequel on the anti-bribery front. Polish authorities are accusing the company of bribery, and the company has launched an investigation into bribery allegations in Jordan and Lebanon. In Poland, the company is accused of paying doctors for prescriptions, and disguising the payments as speaker fees. According to Polish authorities, a dozen doctors were paid fees for presentations they never delivered. GSK conducted its own investigation, saying the payments seem to be linked to one employee and that employee has been disciplined.

In Jordan and Lebanon, GSK began investigating allegations of bribery after a whistleblower contacted the company. The investigation is focused on allegations that bogus speaker fees were paid to physicians; free product was offered for the physicians to sell to patients; and a physician was allowed to exchange a business class plane ticket economy class tickets so his family could accompany him to a medical conference.

Corporations should expect even more focus on FCPA enforcement this summer and in coming years, especially now that global agencies are pooling enforcement resources. Speaking at a conference of the New York City Bar Association, two former government fraud officials, one formerly with the SEC and one formerly with the DOJ, warned that the two agencies are adding to the penalties if companies don’t cooperate with the investigations or try to obstruct the process.

Senator Grassley is planning a new whistleblower production and he is turning to his colleagues for help. The Senator announced he intends to form a Senate Whistleblower Protection Caucus to help ensure whistleblower protection laws are enforced. The plan is to recruit colleagues for the caucus throughout the year, with the goal of launching the new production at the start of the new Congress.

The rules on providing food for pharmaceutical and medical device company meetings have changed, but rather than walk away from the business, some restaurants, like Fogo de Chao, are taking a more creative approach. Leo Jakobson, editor for Successful Meetings, says the Brazilian steakhouse keeps the menus modest and informal by focusing on meals served on skewers, and all of the locations offer private dining rooms for up to 120 participants.

And that’s almost a wrap…at least for this version of the News in Review. The summer season is a great time to reconsider the impact your compliance training has had on your audience. Compliance rules, guidance and best practices are evolving, and we’re expanding the PharmaCertify™ list of mobile training solutions to keep pace with those changes. Through the release of new titles, like Understanding Global Physician Spend Transparency, and updates to existing modules like The Sunshine Act: The Federal Physician Spend Disclosure Law, PharmaCeritfy™ offers the training where your reps need it most – in the field and at their fingertips.

Have a great week everyone! We’ll see you at the movies.

The 2014 Pharmaceutical Compliance Congress: A Recap and Review

The 2014 Pharmaceutical Compliance Congress featured many of the same speakers and topics as past conferences, but recent developments in the world of anti-bribery and compliance brought a new twist to the presentations.

Last year’s developments related to the Chinese government’s aggressive pursuit of corruptions was a recurring topic, with John Crisan, Chief Compliance Officer for Johnson & Johnson, stating at the start of the first session, “what happened in China is a major game changer,” and in a later session, Gary Giampetruzzi from Pfizer said, “The fact that China has put people to death for corruption-related offenses certainly gives pause for concern.”

After the opening remarks of Day 1, Tom Abrams from the Office of Prescription Drug Promotion at the FDA took the stage. Of course, Abrams’ presentation this year had the added bonus of the recently announced news regarding the agency’s guidance on social media. Before providing detail on the guidance, particularly in regard to the process for submitting promoting websites, he emphasized that the agency has more work to do in regard to social media and it “will continue to be a high priority.”   Abrams also told the audience that overall, the quality of promotional materials seems to be improving and the agency is very encouraged at the level of voluntary compliance by the industry.

Carmen Ortiz, US Attorney for the District of Massachusetts, followed with a keynote address regarding the trends in healthcare that have followed major settlements with pharmaceutical companies. Ortiz told the audience that there have been no shortage of qui tam referrals and “the publicity around the cases helps her office reach other whistleblowers and bring more issues to light.” She included the establishment of what she called “ethical compensation plans for reps” and on-going training (a topic close to our hearts and minds here at NXLevel Solutions) in her list of critical best practices for life sciences companies.

Anita Griner, from the CMS Center for Program Integrity followed with a review of the ever popular Open Payments program, a.k.a. the Sunshine Act. Griner offered a thorough review of what data needs to be reported under Sunshine and the process for submitting those reports. Her review included the three reporting categories: General Payments, Research Payments and Ownership and Investment Interests, as well as examples of both Direct and Indirect Payments. Griner’s presentation was comprehensive and she suggested anyone with questions contact the agency’s help desk at openpayments@cms.hhs.gov or sign up for the updates at http://go.cms.gov/openpayments.

The US Healthcare Fraud Enforcement Panel was next, with representatives from US attorney’s offices around the country. Ben Singer, from the Department of Justice, highlighted the focus on the healthcare industry by stating that the DOJ has 38 prosecutors fully dedicated to healthcare fraud prosecution.  Zane Memeger, from the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, discussed the cooperative nature of their work, saying the larger offices share resources with the smaller offices in order to boost their efforts throughout the country. Memeger stressed the critical behavior his office looks for when considering the settlements for violators. Key on his list is whether a company trains its employees regularly, since the rules change regularly, and whether the company self-discloses a violation. Bill Nettles, from South Carolina, agreed, saying he and his colleagues discuss whether each case was self-reported when they review. Of course, when the panel was asked whether they ever decided to not prosecute a case because the disclosure was voluntary, the members smiled and said no.

A panel of defense attorneys closed the morning with suggestions for mitigating risks and preparing for the future. Jennifer Romanski from Porzio reminded the audience that while compliance has to have authority, they have to have buy-in from the entire organization. “You can’t have compliance doing everything,” Romanski stated, “businesses need to play a role.” David Resnicoff of Miller & Chevalier focused on clinical research programs and the need for companies to focus on “what the conversations with the federal government will look sound like, even as they are building their compliance programs.”

For the early afternoon session, I selected the Product Promotional Compliance Track, which kicked off with Lessons Learned from Recent Enforcement Actions Related to Digital Marketing and Social Media. David Vance of Noven offered a comprehensive review of FDA’s position on Internet promotion, and emphasized the need for diligent self-regulation by the industry. During her presentation on Compliant Social Interactions and Engagement, Jennifer Chillas from Bristol-Myers Squibb made a point that those in the industry should not be telling their vendors about the compliance rules, the vendors should be telling them. Do your training vendors know the rules? We do.

During a lively question and answer session, Vance, Sheetal Patel from Johnson & Johnson, and Chillas delved into the challenges of “liking” pages on Facebook.  They agreed that the key is to be aware of what you are “liking” and be careful not to “like” off-label discussions or scientific discussions on sites such as Medscape.

To gain more of a perspective on the global front, I chose the 2:40 session titled FCPA – Key Insights and Enforcement Trends, during which Gary Giampetruzzi from Pfizer made the comment regarding China that I quoted earlier. Giampetruzzi was joined by Richard Konzelmann from Daiichi Sankyo, and the two presented what I considered to be one of the most informative and compelling sessions of the entire conference. After presenting an array of statistics and polls showing that a significant driver of business growth over the next three years will be customers outside the US, the two speakers made a case for the need for increased diligence over interactions, starting with more auditing and investigatory work. Giampetruzzi said he expects FCPA enforcement to accelerate even more quickly, with the 2013 institution of the whistleblower provision in the Dodd-Frank Act. Properly trained management is key to creating an environment in which employees feel comfortable discussing issues internally and feel their concerns are addressed without the need for outside reporting.

I closed Day 1 with the Effective Crisis Management Panel, which featured an impressive list of attorneys and consultants from King & Spalding and more. Wick Sollers, who not long ago represented Joe Paterno at Penn State, pointed out that due to the nature of its business, the pharmaceutical industry is one of the most crisis prone and the need for training on how to respond to a crisis is critical. Seth Lundy agreed, saying “too many of our clients are surprised when someone from the government shows up at the door.” The panel agreed that the Sunshine Act is a risk, particularly with the release of the data scheduled for September and their concern that companies are too focused on the details of the process instead of what the data will reveal.

Day 2

Day 2 started early and the FCPA was once again in focus, as Kathleen Hamann of the law firm, White & Case, again looked at the Act and reminded the bleary-eyed audience to not make their diligence just about the FCPA, but more about eliminating bribery worldwide.

Ilisa B.G. Bernstein, Deputy Director of the Office of Compliance at the FDA, covered the top oversight priorities for the agency. Bernstein focused on the manufacturing problems that occurred because so many facilities were old and out-of-date. But the FDA is encouraged to see the industry policing the problem itself, with firms building new plants, creating better methods and production redundancy.

As the second cup of coffee started to have its desired effect, Patrik Florencio and Samuele Butera, both of Sandoz, and Erik Ramanathan, of Harvard Law School, delivered their Making Compliance Part of Management 101 presentation, which was met with favorable comments throughout the rest of the day. The focus of their comments drilled down to “how often does your manager clearly and specifically reinforce that compliance must never be compromised in order to hit targets?” The three presenters offered a fresh take on the concept of a “culture of compliance” by presenting concrete examples of how internal communication, focused on sales targets, can be seamlessly enhanced with core compliance principles. Compliance targets and goals should not just be theoretical but should be intertwined with financial goals.

The Chief Compliance Officer Panel included the CCOs from AstraZeneca, Daiichi-Sankyo, Aegerion, and Sunovion. Following an introduction by the moderator, which ran a little too long for a number of attendees I later spoke to, the panel also discussed the rules-based vs. values-based approach to compliance. Balance seems to be the key, with Sarah Whipple from Aegerion noting that in “our business, you can’t get away from a rules-based approach. People are used to rules, but people need to be rewarded for doing the right thing.” Jeff Fleming from AstraZeneca pointed out that his company is evolving from a rules-based approach to a values-based one, which does present challenges. “If you’re not going to have rules, tremendous accountability is required,” said Fleming. Matthew D’Ambrosio from Sunovion touched on the handling of mistakes, “Mistakes can be addressed with training, except of course for catastrophic mistakes.” he said. The panelists also agreed that communications and effective awareness campaigns are critical.

The Compliance Program Structure and Effectiveness track was my next stop. Representatives from large and small pharma companies presented suggestions on topics from the challenges of multinational compliance programs to the importance of business in compliance decisions. Jessica Kwon of Forest Laboratories talked about the need to be aware of what is going on in a specific country, politically and culturally, when establishing a compliance program there. “That helps move the conversation along,” Kwon said, “bring yourself out of a US focus.”

Christine Fiore and Bob Doyle of Boehringer-Ingelheim centered their presentation on integrating the business into compliance and it proved to be one of the most dynamic sessions of the day. The pair explained how the compliance department at BI is made up of professionals from different backgrounds who bring a valuable range of experience to the table. Fiore stressed the need to make compliance training fun and engaging and shared tools and tips for doing so with the audience. She even demonstrated an internally-developed iPad app that features video clips and policy documents in a creative and organized framework. This was great material and certainly cutting-edge in terms of how critical compliance content is delivered.

For final session of the conference, I chose the discussion on Compliance Considerations for Small to Mid-Sized Companies, mostly because so many of my clients fit this description and I’m always looking for more knowledge to share with them. The session didn’t disappoint. The discussion began with the topic of resources and whether the participants utilize others, outside of compliance, to accomplish their objectives. “You have to,” said David Stollman from Incyte, “but you have to ask permission to do so. Don’t set yourself up for failure.” Jeff Rosenbaum from Vertex said he turns to his colleagues in accounting for help with auditing. He also pointed out that for small companies with a global presence, compliance can be difficult and again, a focus on the biggest areas of risk is necessary.

On the subject of budgets, the panel agreed that decisions have to be made on what is really needed and what is wanted. How much of that can be done in-house? A good risk assessment will lead to the budget and that assessment needs to be the first step. For Elizabeth Jobes from Auxilum, prioritization is critical. “The highest risk has to be addressed first.”

The session closed with a word of warning from a number of the panelist – no matter how limited your resources, don’t conduct investigations alone. One-on-one meetings in those situations present too many opportunities for facts to be recorded improperly and distorted later.

The 2014 Pharmaceutical Compliance Congress, along with PCF’s Pharmaceutical Regulatory and Compliance Congress both offer excellent opportunities for industry professionals to stay abreast of the best practices and strategies needed in a complex and evolving regulatory world. As a vendor partner, the conferences provide me the chance to not only network with clients and colleagues, but also distribute critical ideas through my social outlets, such as this blog.

If you attended the 2014 PCC, I welcome your comments and feedback. Thanks for reading!

Sean Murphy, NXLevel Solutions

Week in Review, January 7, 2014

Industry associations implement new principles on clinical study data, Abbott settles a False Claims case, the SEC suggests that the FCPA could cover commercial bribery, and the FDA wants to know if its messages are being heard on social media.

Welcome to a new year of compliance news! As the calendar turns, our thoughts turn to the yearly rite of passage otherwise known as New Years’ resolutions. Whether your goals are personal in nature (eat right, save more money, exercise more, etc.) or more focused on your professional life, we wish you the best of luck and as we say in the training field, we hope it sticks! At the Compliance News in Review, we resolve to keep you updated every week on the news from the world of life sciences compliance. With that, we welcome you to the inaugural 2014 edition of the News Week in Review.

The  European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) and PhRMA are starting the year by changing how clinical trial study data is handled. The joint principles on clinical trial data created by the two organizations in 2013 went into effect January 1 and the new principles provide healthcare professionals, qualified researchers and others with the ability to request patient-level data, study-level data, and full clinical study reports and protocols. Some member companies, like GSK and Pfizer, have already provided directions on how to request the data.

Transparency International wants businesses to resolve not to make facilitation payments. In the latest version of the organization’s Business Principles for Countering Bribery, provision of facilitation payments is now considered bribery. Other changes to the principles include the addition of a section addressing conflicts of interest and the addition of a section on the need to complete a business-specific risk assessment when developing an anti-bribery policy.

Abbott is starting the year $5.475 million lighter following a settlement with the DOJ over charges the company violated the False Claims Act. The government alleged Abbott paid doctors to implant several of the company’s vascular products into patients. The suit was originally filed by two former Abbott employees who will receive over one million dollars of the settlement.

The commitment hasn’t quite risen to the level of a resolution yet, but the SEC seems to be indicating it may expand how it enforces the FCPA. At a recent conference, FCPA Unit Chief Kara Brockmeyer told participants that the books and records provision of the Act makes the prosecution of corporate bribery fair game. If corporate bribery is discovered during the course of an investigation, a company’s books and records will be scrutinized and action can be brought against the company.

China is starting 2014 with a renewed focused on bribery involving pharmaceutical, medical device and nutritional products companies. The country is planning to blacklist companies that pay bribes to doctors or healthcare authorities. The first offense will result in a regional ban, and the second in a full country ban.

The FDA is taking new steps to make sure its messages are being heard. The agency will monitor online chatter to see if its social media messages are reaching an audience and if that audience is paying attention.

That’s all for this week folks. Remember, if you’re 2014 compliance training curriculum could use a refresher, the PharmaCertify™ suite of off-the-shelf modules and mobile apps bring up-to-date compliance content on topics like the Sunshine Act and on-label promotion to your staff where they need it most – in the field and at their fingertips.

Have a great week and Happy New Year!

News Week in Review, December 10, 2013

Studies reveal non-clinician HCPs have a favorable view of industry relationship, AstraZeneca partners with Harvard to improve drug testing, and the focus on the FCPA intensifies.

Well, the year is almost over, and if you’re like us, you’re probably wondering how December got here so fast and what happened to the rest of 2013. Before we put another year in the books though, we at least have the usual list of holiday movies and specials to enjoy. While you search the listings and set your DVRs to record, we’ll deliver a little entertainment of our own, with this week’s News in Review.

In terms of their relationships with the industry, non-physician clinicians generally feel It’s a Wonderful Life, albeit one with the potential for risks and conflicts of interest. An analysis of multiple studies related to the industry and non-physician HCPs like registered nurses, nurse prescribers, and Physician Assistants, shows the providers typically have a favorable view of industry interactions and say they rely on industry representatives for important information. The authors of the review suggest institutions expand policies on industry interactions and the Sunshine Act to include non-clinician HCPs.

AstraZeneca researchers will Deck the Halls with researchers at Harvard. The company announced they will collaborate with the institution on an initiative to improve drug testing in humans. The technology, called Organs on Chips, uses human cells in a flexible polymer to imitate human organs. The two organizations will work to develop an animal version of the technology that will then be used to compare drug testing results between humans and animals.

Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town, with early gifts, by way of Vermont and CMS. The Vermont AG’s office released a memo announcing the 2013 disclosure forms and databases will be ready sometime this week, and that the draft guidance for 2014 will be released soon. A conference call to discuss the guidance will be held December 19. CMS posted several documents to the Open Payments website, including XML and CSD schema for reports and sample report examples.

Some in the industry might say the Department of Justice and Securities and Exchange Commission are acting more and more like Scrooge when it comes to FCPA investigations. According to the head of the DOJ’s FCPA Unit, the DOJ is investigating 150 cases and expects to bring “very significant cases” in 2014. The SEC has received over 3,000 whistleblower tips involving FCPA investigations and with cooperation increasing globally, regulators expect the prosecution of individuals for FCPA violations to continue.

Was that The Grinch Who Stole Christmas lurking about the offices of Reckitt Benckiser? Perhaps it was one of the agents from the OIG and IRS who removed boxes of documents from the company’s offices in Virginia. A company spokesperson confirmed that a warrant was served by the US Attorney’s Office for Western Virginia, and that the company was cooperating with the investigation. The purpose for the warrant was not disclosed.

Employees at Advance Sterilization Products haven’t been feeling merry lately. The FDA announced a $1.25 million settlement with the company and two of its executives for the selling of adulterated and misbranded product. The FDA claims the company knew it did not have sufficient data to support the expiration date on its sterilization monitoring product.

That brings us to the end of the News in Review for this week. As you close out 2013 and finalize your compliance curriculum for next year, remember the PharmaCertify™ suite of eLearning modules and mobile apps offer your staff the up-to-date content they need where and when they need it most – in the field and at their fingertips.

Have a great week everyone!

Week in Review, July 29, 2013

The PharmaCertify™ Team

Christmas in July. It’s gone from a fun little saying to a marketing gimmick to help clear out the last of the summer merchandise with Christmas shopping-esque sales. Oh, and let’s not forget the cable networks breaking out all your favorite holiday movies and specials in an effort to gain summer viewers. (BTW…still waiting on someone to show the Star Wars Christmas special. Where’s the love??!!) So, who are we at the News Week in Review to buck this trend? Pull out your jingle bells and put on your Santa hat, it’s time for Christmas in July in this week’s News Week in Review.

Facilitation payments – naughty or nice? Well in certain countries they are definitely naughty, and while “nice” may not be the exact term one wants to use when talking about them, facilitation payments are certainly a reality of doing business in some countries. A columnist with Compliance Week points out that no compliance officer wants to see bribes labeled as facilitation payments, but if paid as intended – to speed up an action a government official would do anyway – then there shouldn’t be an issue. Governments are increasingly including bans on facilitation payments in their anti-corruption laws, but are such bans realistic considering the reality of the global business environment? The U.K. Bribery Act was the first to ban facilitation payments, but now there is a movement within the government to repeal that section of the law. Canada’s recent amendment to its anti-corruption law will phase out facilitation payments, but the no time table was indicated for the phase out.

The Chinese government has been busy handing out lumps of coal as it expands its probe into the pharma industry. Thirty-nine hospital workers will be punished for taking bribes, two more Chinese employees with Astra-Zeneca were questioned in connection with an investigation of that company, and an American from an unnamed company was detained by the government in connection with an industry investigation. A spokesperson for the U.S. Embassy said they were aware of the situation and were providing appropriate assistance.

The industry can expect some unwrapping of the details relative to drug patent settlements from the Federal Trade Commission going forward. Speaking to lawmakers, FTC Commissioner Edith Ramirez said the agency plans to continue on with current pay-for-delay cases it is litigating and will be investigating new settlements to determine if they are legal. She acknowledged that most patent settlements do not involve a pay-for-delay component but the FTC’s goal will continue to be to stop the anti-competitive settlements that do.

In Chile, where it actually feels like Christmas, the Chilean Medical Association (CMC) and the Council of Pharmaceutical Innovation (CIF) signed an agreement to address conflicts of interests between the industry and healthcare professionals. The agreement prohibits the provision of donations and gifts to influence healthcare professionals’ decisions and paying physicians to conduct clinical trials of new drugs. The Presidents of both organizations said they hoped the agreement would show the public they are serious about stopping conflicts of interest. The signing of the agreement comes in advance of a vote by the Chilean legislature on the Pharmacy Law which will bring transparency to the relationship between physicians and the industry.

The need for Rudolph’s shiny nose is starting to dwindle as the CMS starts clearing up some of the fog surrounding Sunshine requirements. Andrew Rosenberg of the CME Coalition met with CMS’ Sunshine implementation team to clarify some of the requirements related to reporting payments at CME events. He was able to confirm that events considered accredited under the final rule the following are exempt from reporting; speaker travel and lodging, attendee buffet style meals and most educational items. Rosenberg was pleased with the clarification, and said, “The goal here should be to continue to encourage doctors to pursue CME and not create a barrier for uncertainty about the rules.” The CME Coalition hopes to see CMS make changes regarding the accrediting bodies whose programs fall under the CME exemption in the final rule. Rosenberg points out there are number of other accrediting bodies that have adopted ACCME standards and follow the same rules as the organizations listed in the final rule. He also said that CME events supported by accrediting bodies with rules similar to CMS’ final Sunshine rules should be exempt from reporting. The Coalition plans to continue to push this point with CMS and Rosenberg believes eventually they will win on this issue.

Christmas may still be several months off, but the start of Sunshine Act data collection is just a few days away! It is essential that those who interact with physicians understand the requirements under Sunshine to avoid a “garbage in- garbage out” scenario with all necessary data. To ensure a clear understanding of Sunshine consider our customizable, off-the-shelf module. Click here to learn more about our effective eLearning program.

Unfortunately, we must wrap up our little holiday fantasy and return to the warm reality of summer. Have a great week everyone!

Week in Review, July 22, 2013

The PharmaCertify™ Team

Apparently, the British media nicknamed Kate Middleton “Waity Katie” while she waited on Prince William to pop the question, and she proved to live up to that nickname again while she and her prince waited on the arrival of their first born. The waiting is finally over! As of press time, the Duchess of Cambridge was in labor. While the world waits to learn if the third in line for the throne is a boy or a girl, we’ll help you pass the time with this week’s News Week in Review.

With Sunshine’s due date quickly approaching, CMS released more FAQs and a couple of apps to help track payments. The latest additions cover the definition of an accredited CME program, and how (sort of) payments to physicians for promotional speaking engagements should be categorized. As to the latter question, CMS states those payments could be categorized as “honoraria” or “payments for services other than consulting,” depending on the ”specific facts.” Hmm…that’s helpful. The apps are available for industry professionals or physicians and are primarily designed to help with the payment tracking process.

The Journal of the American Medical Association has a gift for those submitting studies for publication. JAMA will no longer require independent statistical analysis for clinical studies funded by the industry. JAMA’s editor-in-chief cited improvements clinical trial reporting, including clinical trial registries and more transparency in trial data, as the reason for dropping the requirement.

There’s a new arrival in the Pennsylvania legislature. A bill has been introduced to institute a state false claims act. The bill has many of the same provisions as the federal False Claims Act, including protection and incentives for whistleblowers.

On the bribery front, China has been the focus of a number of bribery investigations in all business sectors, with the pharmaceutical industry taking center stage. The focus has been on GSK to this point, but several other pharmaceutical companies are under investigation by Chinese law enforcement, prompting one multinational company to tell employees in China to choose compliance with Chinese regulations over winning business. The regulatory climate, poorly paid doctors, and underfunded hospitals have fueled the fire for bribery in China, and made the industry a target for enforcement agencies. Chinese officials may also have another reason for focusing on the industry – the rising cost of healthcare in the country. Those costs are expected to top one trillion dollars by 2020.

Canada has decided to dress up its anti-bribery law with new amendments designed to strengthen the law. The amendments make it easier to investigate and prosecute offenses, and exposes corporate directors, officers and employees to expanded criminal liability. A criminal books and records offense (a civil offense under the FCPA) was added, as was a provision for phasing out facilitation payments. The maximum penalty for individuals was increased from 5 to 14 years imprisonment.

US law enforcement delivered multiples last week; multiple settlement announcements that is.  Amgen agreed to pay $15 million to settle allegations it violated the federal Anti-kickback Statute and False Claims Act. According to prosecutors, the company used data purchase agreements to incentivize oncologists to use one of its chemotherapy drugs. Mallinckdrot Inc. also agreed to pay $3.5 million to settle allegations of violating the Anti-kickback Statute and False Claims Act.  The company was accused of incentivizing doctors to prescribe “outdated and third-rate drugs.” The whistleblower suit claimed the company paid speaking and consulting fees to physicians in exchange for prescribing its anti-depressants and sleeping pills. The suit claimed that without the incentives, the drugs would not have been prescribed, since several of the drugs were approved decades ago.

Well, that’s about it on the news front for this week. As people around the world monitor their mobile devices for news of the royal delivery, we’ll use this opportunity to ask if you’ve incorporated mobile solutions into your compliance plan. PharmaCertify’s mobile apps and iPad-compatible training modules bring critical compliance content where your staff where they need it most – in the field and at their fingertips. For more information or a demo, contact Sean Murphy at 609-466-2828, ext 25 or smurphy@nxlevelsolutions.com.

Have a great week everyone!

Week in Review, July 8, 2013

Te PharmaCertify™ Team

Well, here we are again…Monday already. Back to work we go, after what was hopefully a long weekend for you. While having one or two days off is refreshing, it tends to leave you a little foggy on Monday, doesn’t it? Never fear, we kept our ear to the ground throughout the July 4th holiday and what better way to jump start the week than with the News in Review.

A study finds that Canadian medical schools’ policies about interactions with industry are falling short. The study evaluated the conflict of interest policies of Canada’s seventeen medical schools in twelve categories, including samples, curriculum and scholarships. In most of the categories, only one school had what researchers considered restrictive policies. Some of the schools have developed new polices or revised existing policies since the study was conducted in 2011.

Bribery is no small matter, and a new report finds that bribery and corruption risks are on the rise. Nearly half of the businesses in the study say their bribery and corruption risks have increased in the last two years, and they expect that trend to continue in the future. Expansion into new markets and heightened enforcement are the top two reasons cited for the increase in risk. Nearly 20% of the businesses in the study said they either don’t require employees to read their anti-bribery policy or they don’t even have one in place.

Several GSK employees were detained by Chinese officials for suspected “economic crimes.” The detention follows allegations from an internal tipster. The company said it was aware of an investigation by Chinese officials, but the nature of the investigation was not known.

The London Police will soon start training businesses about the UK Bribery Act. The training, which is slated to begin in September, will be conducted in conjunction with the British Standards Institution, a business standards company. The London Police have 25 bribery cases under investigation.

Transparency is going global, as the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) is now requiring its member companies to disclose payments and transfers of value to physicians. The requirement was adopted by the EFPIA’s board last month, and will require member companies to begin publishing the information in 2016.

Medical device manufacturer, Baxano Surgical, formerly TransS1 Inc., agreed to pay $6 million to settle allegations it violated the False Claims Act. The company was accused of causing healthcare providers to submit incorrect diagnosis or procedure codes to Medicare for the use of its spinal fusion products. The government claims the company advised providers to use a code intended for more invasive spinal procedures than those associated with use of the their own product. The company was also accused of providing kickbacks to physicians in the form of consulting and speakers fees as an inducement to use its product, and for promoting the product for unapproved uses.

The settlements for violations of global bribery law are growing in numbers and dollars. That’s why PharmaCertify’s, Understanding and Preventing Bribery in the Global Life Sciences Marketplace is designed to help your staff and representatives evaluate the degree of risk inherent with every transaction and understand the level of due diligence and monitoring needed to ensure compliance with the FCPA and the UK Bribery Act. Contact Sean Murphy at smurphy@nxlevelsolutions.com to learn more about the module.

Have a great week everyone!

Week in Review, July 1, 2013

The PharmaCertify™ Team

Strike up the band, fire up the barbecue and prepare to proudly fly the flag high! It’s almost Independence Day; the time of year when, despite our differences, Americans come together to celebrate the birth of our nation. But before we find the best spot on the curb to watch the parade pass by, there is still the matter of the work week, albeit a short one. What better way to get us started, than with the News Week in Review.

The US Supreme Court has certainly been busy. In a 5-4 decision, the Court decided that a federal law regarding pharmaceutical promotion pre-empts a person’s ability to file a state suit over a poorly designed generic drug. The case involved a woman who sued Mutual Pharmaceuticals after she suffered an adverse event allegedly caused by one of the company’s generic products.

The British are coming! The British are coming! And they’re serious about anti-bribery. Speaking at an anti-corruption conference, the Serious Fraud Office’s chief investigating officer, Kevin Davis, revealed the organization is actively investigating two cases under the UK Bribery Act. Despite drastic reductions in the SFO’s budget, Davis said cost would not deter the SFO from pursuing bribery cases, and stressed the importance of companies having robust procedures in place to deal with bribery. Davis also discussed the shift in the SFO’s approach to handling bribery cases. He told conference attendees, “We are not an agony aunt or advice service. The SFO had tipped too far towards settlements.”

Medicines Australia took another step toward joining the transparency parade. The agency’s Transparency Working Group released its model for reporting physician payments. The model is similar to the US Sunshine Act, and is currently being reviewed by the larger organization.

John Hancock would be a bit disappointed with recent petition response from the FDA. The agency was petitioned by a non-profit group to increase the type size on DTC ads. The group is concerned that the type is too small for the elderly to read and they are hopeful that a change will reduce accidental overdose and adverse events. The FDA rejected the petition, saying while the concerns are valid, current regulations and two draft guidance policies address the issue satisfactorily. The group was disappointed with the decision, saying that the FDA had turned “its back on millions of patients and consumers nationwide.”

Medtronic declared its independence from an FCPA investigation. In a regulatory filing, the company said it was informed by the SEC and DOJ that the agencies would not be prosecuting the company on FCPA charges. In 2007, the company received letters from both agencies, seeking information on potential violations of the bribery law.

Well, that’s it for this week’s Review. Amidst your plans for the weekend celebration, it’s easy to forget that we are now under the 30 day mark for Sunshine Act data collection to begin. PharmaCertify’s The Sunshine Act: The Federal Physician Spend Disclosure Law covers the reporting requirements and includes practical tips for tracking and reporting crucial spend data.

Have a great week and July 4th celebration!

Week in Review, June 24, 2013

The PharmaCertify™ Team

According to the meteorologists and the astronomers, summer has begun! Time to hang ten and catch a wave! We know…on a Monday, the weekend beach time seems a little far off, but at least we can dream, as we enjoy an iced coffee or other beverage of choice. Before you drift off to the shores of daydream land though, check out what the tide brought in…this week’s News Week in Review.

According to one congressional report, it’s not just sand dollars the FDA is holding onto recently. The US House Committee on Appropriations criticized the agency for carrying one billion dollars of unobligated user fees halfway through the fiscal year. Congress expected some carryover in user fees, but the one billion dollar figure was quite the surprise. Going forward, the FDA Commissioner will submit a report about the fees to the Appropriations Committees and what programs those fees will support.

A new report finds that objections from regulatory departments are not the reason pharma companies are slow to catch the social medial wave. When asked about the social media mindset at the end of 2012, twelve pharmaceutical executives said the biggest obstacles were teamwork issues. The executives pointed to a lack of internal expertise in social media and an unwillingness to participate by various groups within the organization. An inability to measure the return on investment was also cited.

Efforts at passing legislation similar to the Sunshine Act have wiped out in Australia. The Australian Senate Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee rejected a bill that would have required disclosure of physician payments by pharmaceutical manufacturers. Instead, the committee agreed with industry and medical professional stakeholders in stating that self-regulation was a better way to handle the disclosures. Some believe that the bill failed because Medicines Australia is currently working on payment transparency requirements, which has limited the scope of the bill.

In the world of generics, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that companies can be sued over pay for delay deals that slow the entry of generic drugs into the market. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the delays cost consumers $3.5 billion a year. The decision opens drug companies to a wave of suits by wholesalers, insurers and antitrust enforcement agencies.

CMS want physicians to know the agency is dedicated to making sure they don’t get burned by Sunshine. A spokesperson from CMS told a gathering of the American Medical Association’s House of Delegates that data accuracy is the agency’s top priority.  The spokesperson said doctors can challenge the information if they feel it is inaccurate, and she encouraged them to take an active role in the process. CMS is developing tools, like a smart phone app that syncs with manufacturer reporting activity, for physicians to monitor the process and dispute results. The outgoing AMA president said the Association has started a Sunshine resource page to educate physicians about the requirements of the laws and will be holding webinars and hosting online modules for additional assistance.

It’s not all sunny skies concerning data accuracy at CMS. According to a report from the OIG, the database housing the physician information required for the Sunshine reports is largely inaccurate. Apparently, the National Plan and Provider Enumeration System (NPPES), which houses National Provider Identifiers (NPIs), contains inaccurate information in at least one field, 48% of the time. The OIG made several recommendations to correct the problem, including the implementation of program integrity safeguards in the Program Integrity Manual.

Well. that’s it for “start of summer 2013” edition of the News in Review. If the Sunshine Act is hot on your list of training topics for 2013, PharmaCertify has added The Sunshine Act: The Federal Spend Disclosure Law to its curriculum of customizable off-the-shelf compliance training modules. Contact Sean Murphy smurphy@nxlevelsolutions.com to learn more or receive a content outline.

Have a great week everyone!