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Revisit your speaker program policies to avoid abusive practices

Ahmed Salim ( is Director of Ethics and Compliance Services at iRhythm Technologies in San Francisco, California, USA, and Ryan Melson ( is an Associate at Mercer in New York City.

In November 2020, the US Office of Inspector General (OIG) released a special fraud alert that highlighted the fraud and abuse risks associated with “speaker programs.”[1] Special fraud alerts provide the OIG with an opportunity to notify industries of certain abusive practices they plan to pursue and prosecute. The OIG’s focus on speaker programs has stemmed from an increased number of investigations where remuneration was offered and paid to healthcare professionals (HCPs). In July 2020, a settlement with Novartis Pharmaceuticals for $678 million dollars involved operating sham speaker programs where Novartis paid HCPs $100 million dollars to induce prescriptions of Novartis’ drugs.[2] With an increased focus on speaker programs, it is important to understand the impact that the OIG’s new guidance may have on your organization and how to effectively guide organizational change to avoid potential risks associated with your organization’s speaker program.

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