The health-care industry’s longstanding practice of paying doctors to explain and promote products is under review after a government watchdog last month issued a rare warning.
The special fraud alert by the Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services—its first in six years—will at minimum prompt pharmaceutical and medical-device companies to take a hard look at the policies and controls associated with their speaker programs, compliance professionals say.
Under such programs, companies typically pay a health-care professional an honorarium to give speeches or presentations about a company’s drugs or medical devices. Those payments aren’t improper or illegal per se, but they pose a risk for companies under the Anti-Kickback Statute, which prohibits inducing or rewarding referrals or orders for items and services reimbursable under Medicare and Medicaid.
The alert may cause the industry to move away from the promotional practice altogether in the long