On Monday, November 15, 2021, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) repealed a policy established by the Trump administration that directed the FDA not to enforce premarket review requirements for COVID-19 laboratory developed tests (LDTs). This prior policy, which waived premarket review requirements aimed at increasing broad public access to COVID-19 tests, was generally consistent with the FDA’s historical stance allowing laboratories to not seek approval of LDTs. With the policy announced by the Trump administration, laboratories again began offering their tests prior to or without an emergency use authorization (EUA) after the test was validated and a notification was provided to the FDA. While this policy expedited the availability of tests, the FDA contends that the policy also led to some poorly-performing tests being offered prior to FDA review. Notably, this prior policy did not apply to at-home or point of care collection tests, which have always required FDA review.
Continue Reading HHS Again Requires FDA Premarket Review for COVID-19 Tests

On November 4, 2021, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced the conviction of several South Florida addiction treatment facility operators following a seven-week trial. The initial indictment was filed in September 2020, charging ten defendants for their alleged conduct in committing health care fraud, wire fraud, violations of the Eliminating Kickbacks in Recovery Act (EKRA), the Anti-Kickback Statute, and money laundering. The defendants included the co-owners of two entities providing treatment and therapy for substance use disorder, several other management level individuals, a referring chiropractor, and several marketing employees.
Continue Reading DOJ Focused on Toxicology Testing – EKRA and Anti-Kickback Statute Violations Abound

On March 18, 2020, the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) issued an order requiring laboratories to report negative SARS-CoV-2 test results to DPH using the Electronic Laboratory Reporting System. DPH indicated the immediate reporting of such results is necessary for public health purposes.
Continue Reading Connecticut DPH Updates List of Reportable Laboratory Findings to Include Negative SARS-CoV-2 Test Results

On September 4, 2019, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced a $15.4 million settlement with pharmaceutical company Mallinckrodt ARD LLC (Mallinckrodt) to resolve alleged violations of the Anti-Kickback Statute (AKS) in two whistleblower suits filed under the False Claims Act (FCA). The settlement addresses allegations of AKS violations between 2009-2013 by sales representatives of a company later acquired by Mallinckrodt via the “wining and dining” of physicians to induce Medicare prescriptions of that company’s drug. Interestingly, the settlements do not cover related allegations within those FCA suits that Mallinckrodt improperly used a patient assistance foundation to “pay illegal kickbacks in the form of copay subsidies” for the same drug.
Continue Reading Government Continues to Closely Scrutinize Pharmaceutical Marketing Practices

The Advanced Medical Technology Association (AdvaMed) has revised its U.S. Code of Ethics for Interactions with Health Care Professionals, with updates that take effect January 1, 2020. Until then, the current AdvaMed Code remains in effect.

Continue Reading AdvaMed Revises Code of Ethics on Interactions with Health Care Professionals

The Department of Justice (DOJ) recently announced two high-dollar False Claims Act (FCA) enforcement actions involving allegedly fraudulent arrangements tied to the implementation and use of electronic health record systems (EHRs). The respective settlements enable recovery by DOJ of over $100 million, and immediately precede the government’s recent proposal of new rules to promote the interoperability of EHRs. The settlements thus serve as an important reminder of the importance of adhering to federal fraud and abuse laws and regulations as hospitals and other health care providers continue to implement EHR technology.
Continue Reading Department of Justice Announces Significant False Claims Act Settlements Tied to Electronic Health Records Arrangements

On February 6, 2019, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) published a proposed rule (Proposed Rule) that would amend the safe harbor regulations under the Federal Anti-Kickback Statute. The Proposed Rule is intended to “address the modern prescription drug distribution model” and make sure that the safe harbors “extend only to arrangements that present a low risk of harm to the Federal health care programs and beneficiaries.” Specifically, in the Proposed Rule OIG proposes to alter the definition of  “discounts” under the so-called “discounts safe harbor” at 42 C.F.R. § 1001.952(h) to exclude from protection any reductions in price or other remuneration offered by pharmaceutical drug manufacturers to pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), Part D plan sponsors, or Medicaid managed care organizations. Additionally, the Proposed Rule proposes and solicits comment on two new safe harbor provisions: one aimed at reducing the price of pharmaceuticals where reductions in price are reflected at the point of sale to a beneficiary, and a second that would protect certain fixed fee services arrangements between manufacturers and PBMs.
Continue Reading HHS Proposes to Amend AKS Safe Harbors to Exclude PBM Rebates and Incentivize Consumer Drug Discounts

On January 24, 2019, the Office of Inspector General (“OIG”) issued a favorable advisory opinion allowing a pharmaceutical manufacturer (“Manufacturer”) to temporarily loan limited-functionality smartphones to financially needy patients who lack the required technology to receive adherence data from a sensor embedded in a prescribed antipsychotic medication (“the Arrangement”). The OIG concluded that the Arrangement did not constitute grounds for penalties under the Civil Monetary Penalties law (“CMP”) and that although the Arrangement could potentially cause remuneration under the Anti-Kickback Statute (“AKS”), the OIG would not impose sanctions on the Manufacturer as related to the Arrangement based on the low-risk nature of the Arrangement.
Continue Reading OIG Advisory Opinion No. 19-02 Allows Pharmaceutical Manufacturer to Temporarily Loan Smartphones to Financially Needy Patients to Receive Data from a Digestible Medication Sensor

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced a Proposed Rule to amend Medicare Advantage (MA) regulations and Prescription Drug Benefit program (Part D) regulations.  The Proposed Rule was published on November 30, 2018. The Proposed Rule is intended to help lower drug prices for health and drug plans and reduce out-of-pocket costs for MA and Part D enrollees. Major provisions include: Providing Plans with increased flexibility in managing drug formularies. Current policy requires Part D formularies to include all drugs in the following categories: (1) antidepressants; (2) antipsychotics; (3) anticonvulsants; (4) immunosuppressants for treatment of transplant rejection; (5) antiretrovirals; and (6) antineoplastics; except in limited circumstances. The Proposed Rule includes three exceptions, allowing: (1) broader use of prior authorization and step therapy; (2) exclusion of drugs that are only a new formulation of an existing single-source drug or biological product, regardless of whether the older formulation remains on the market; and (3) exclusion of drugs with a price increase beyond an inflation-based threshold relative to a baseline month and year.

Continue Reading CMS Proposes Revised Prescription Drug Regulations to Lower Drug Prices and Reduce Out of Pocket Expenses

On June 25, 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Epidiolex, an orally administered drug derived from the marijuana plant, Cannabis sativa. The drug is approved for use for patients two years and older, for the treatment of seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome, both of which are rare and severe forms of epilepsy. It is the first drug that FDA has approved for Dravet patients.
Continue Reading FDA Approves Marijuana-Derived, CBD-Containing Drug Epidiolex to Treat Certain Epilepsy-Associated Seizures