Compliance News in Review, July 7, 2017

Canadians, Californians, and Mainers are all on the hunt for transparency. Will they find “gold” they seek? Find out in this week’s News in Review.

There’s gold in them thar hills! Seriously. A number of years ago, a man hid an estimated $2 million treasure of gold and jewels somewhere in the Rocky Mountains, leaving only a cryptic poem to guide treasure hunters to the stash. At the time, he said he hoped it would inspire folk to get up off their couches and explore nature. Many have, and unfortunately, a couple of them met an untimely end during that search. As far as anyone knows, the treasure is still out there for the taking, but before we break out our atlases and sharpen our pickaxes, let’s dig into the news of the day in this edition of the Compliance News in Review.

Pharma companies will be able to hold on to their doubloons if an amendment to the California bill prohibiting gifts and restricting payments to doctors stands. Legislators eliminated the penalties associated with the bill, but added a provision that prohibits doctors from receiving payments for speaking or serving as faculty at events that are not accredited by the ACCME or a similar organization.

A pair of Canadian doctors are on the hunt for transparency with a program intended to gain support for more industry/physician transparency. According to one of the doctors, “interaction with industry is everywhere and a lot of progress has come from collaborating,” but he worries that trust will be eroded if they continue to “keep relationships in the dark.”

Providing some clues to the transparency hunt, ten of the largest pharmaceutical companies in Canada released information on transfers of value they provided to healthcare professionals and organizations. The effort was headed by GSK, and included AbbVie, Merck, and Eli Lilly. Total payments for all the companies came in just under $50 million and covered the 2016 calendar year. Critics complained the data provided little real transparency because the figures represented the companies’ aggregate payments to all doctors or healthcare organizations, rather than individual practitioners or organizations.

The release of this data prompted one treasure hunter, Ontario’s health minister, to announce he will investigate the concept of requiring pharmaceutical companies to disclose physician payment data (a la the U.S. Sunshine Act). He said the voluntary release of recent spend data by certain pharmaceutical companies was a good start, and that the government is “committed to strengthening transparency across the healthcare sector.” Consultations into the matter are scheduled for this summer.

Trekking across the Canadian border to Maine, we discover the legislature has passed a bill that will curtail payments from pharmaceutical companies to doctors. The bill prohibits the provision of “cash gifts” but allows non-monetary gifts of “minimal value.” It also allows doctors to receive payments for speaking about research at “legitimate educational conferences.”

For those wishing to do a little prospecting, the Open Payments data for the 2016 is now available. Nearly 1,500 companies reported transactions totaling $8.1 billion. Just over half of the $8 billion went toward research. A billion dollars was paid in ownership interest, and just under $3 billion fell in the general payments categories. Nearly 12 million records were published this year, covering 631,000 physicians and 1,146 teaching hospitals.

There’s a certain theme running through this week’s news bites. Transparency. Governments, academia, and special interest groups, all extol the need for transparency in the relationships between life science companies and healthcare professionals. Although most of the heavy lifting regarding data is typically handled by a small group of dedicated data hounds, others in the organization need to be aware of the laws and their restrictions.

Those who interact with healthcare professionals need to know the types of information that is reported and understand their role in assuring the accurate and timely collection of the data. As the saying goes, “garbage in: garbage out,” and considering that many of these laws carry financial penalties for reporting errant data, companies certainly want to take steps to reduce the “garbage.”

Well, we’ve reached the end of the trail on this edition of the Compliance News in Review. We’ll see you right back here for the next edition.

Thanks for reading!

Compliance News in Review, August 25, 2016

Here’s the tune we’re whistling this week: a California state senator pulls his own proposed transparency bill; an analysis of the FDA user fee programs yields interesting information; former Insys employees in court; FCPA woes at Orthofix International; and a new way for New Jersey residents to learn how much their docs received from the industry.

Summer is coming to a close all too quickly, but you still have a few weeks to cruise the boulevard, roll down the windows and belt out that favorite song at the top of your lungs. Sadly, these anthems tend to disappear at the first hint of cool temperatures, so dance on whilst you can! While you pump up the volume on your music delivery apparatus of choice, we’ll fire up a jam of own, with this edition of the Compliance News in Review.

It’s been a Cruel Summer for a California state legislator. The state senator who proposed a drug pricing transparency bill for the state has pulled the bill from consideration, saying amendments to the bill “made it more difficult for us to accomplish our fundamental goal.”

Could a recent analysis of FDA user fees stir up some Bad Blood? The analysis of FDA user fees showed that the FDA has collected over seven billion dollars in fees since 1992. These fees account for a large percentage, in some cases the majority, of funding for FDA review programs, and there is nearly $300 million dollars in unused user fees being carried by the FDA.

An interactive map shows the Blurred Lines between New Jersey physicians and the pharmaceutical industry. A state news website created an interactive map that provides details of physician and hospital payments from the pharmaceutical industry. Users search by zip code, and see payment details for hospitals and physicians in the area. The site also has an alphabetical listing of physicians and hospitals receiving payments. Data for the site was sourced from the Open Payments website.

Orthofix International allegedly got in the Danger Zone regarding improper payments made by its Brazilian subsidiary. In a recent regulatory filing, Orthofix International registered a charge of $4.6 million to settle potential FCPA charges. The company reported the potential violation to the DOJ and SEC in 2013, and has been cooperating with both agencies to resolve the matter.

If Life is a Highway, a pair of former Insys employees may be about to head down a bumpy road. A former district sales manager and former sales representative recently pleaded not guilty to charges they provided kickbacks to doctors in exchange for prescribing the company’s fentanyl drug. The two are accused of paying speaker fees to doctors for events that were held at upscale Manhattan restaurants and were social, rather than educational, in nature.

With that, it’s time for us to boogie on out of here. We hope to see you back on the dance floor for the next edition of the Compliance News in Review. Until then, stay cool, keep the summertime jams going, and stay compliant.

Compliance News in Review, July 20, 2015

The House of Representatives passes the 21st Century Cures Act, two companies settle AMP charges, oral arguments begin in Amarin v. FDA, and CMS updates its Open Payments FAQs.

Diamonds are not only a girl’s best friend…a very special mouse is fond of them as well. The Happiest Place on Earth (or, at least the one in California), is celebrating its diamond anniversary. Happy 60th Disneyland! The place has certainly changed in its 60 years, but fan favorites such as Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride and the Jungle Cruise have stood the test of time. In true Disney fashion, the party isn’t just a one day affair; it actually started back in May and will likely continue through the fall, if not into 2017. Before we cut the cake with the big ears, we have a bit of “magic” of own to administer. Grab a churro and settle in for this edition of the Compliance News in Review.

The House is celebrating the overwhelming passage of the 21st Century Cures Act. The bill is designed to fund research and change the FDA’s drug and device approval process. It includes a change to the rule its provisions are changes to the Sunshine Act which would exclude the reporting of the value of journal reprints and payments for CME.

AstraZeneca and Cephalon may be feeling a bit Grumpy. The two companies reached separate agreements with the government over charges related to underpaid Medicaid rebates. According to a whistleblower, the companies improperly reduced the Average Manufacturers Price (AMP) of their products by subtracting fees paid to wholesalers. The companies paid $46.5 million and $7.5 million respectively to settle the matter.

Oral arguments began in Amarin’s suit against the FDA. The company cited the Caronia decision and the Sorrell v. IMS decision in its argument. Much of the discussion centered on the type of disclaimers need to accompany off-label promotion and not whether Amarin even has a right to do so. The FDA’s lawyer argued the interpretation of the Caronia decision should be very narrow but the judge disagreed. A judicial order is expected in a few weeks.

The whistleblower in a case against Endo may be throwing a Mad Tea Party now that she’s been awarded $33.6 million for her efforts. The case, which was settled with the government in February of last year, involved the off-label promotion of the company’s pain patch. Despite a recommendation from government lawyers that the whistleblower receive 19% of the settlement, the federal judge awarded her 24%, citing her “extraordinary effort” in the case. The whistleblower initially filed suit in 2005, and spent five of the nine years that followed working under the direction of the FBI.

CMS has sprinkled some Pixie Dust over the Open Payments FAQs, and sure enough new FAQs have taken flight. Several of the new FAQs have to do with physicians and teaching hospitals being able to access, review and dispute the data now that the review and dispute period has closed.

If the FAQ updates weren’t enough, CMS was back for a second ride with updated information about the reporting of CME payments on the Law and Policy page of the Open Payments website. Beginning in 2016, manufacturers will have to report indirect payments to CME providers if the manufacturers learn the identity of the physician attendees or speakers within the reporting year, or the first two quarters following the reporting year.

The updates to the Open Payments website remind us that the program is evolving. Your company’s training needs to evolve and grow as well. Affected personnel need to be updated on changes, and reminded of the need to communicate with their physicians. Now is the time to map out your plan for refresher training and refocus your aggregate spend and sales personnel.

That’s a wrap on the compliance news fit to blog for now. Have a great week everyone.