Special Fraud Alert – Speaker Programs

This is a message from UF’s Conflicts of Interest Program to inform our health colleges’ faculty of a Special Fraud Alert from the HHS Office of Inspector General regarding speaker programs.  Highlights are summarized below, and please see attached for the full alert.  This alert demonstrates the government’s heightened focus on inappropriate speaker programs, and the importance of disclosing outside activities in advance as required by UF policy.  When speaking at internal or external events, UF faculty should only present appropriate educational content that is fully prepared by the faculty without edits or influence from any industry company.  Please visit the COI Program website for more information about UF’s COI policy and how to disclose using the UFOLIO system: www.coi.ufl.edu.

Alert Highlights

Investigations by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) and the Department of Justice have resulted in numerous recent fraud cases involving allegations that payments associated with speaker programs violated the federal Anti-Kickback Statute, which is punishable by a fine of up to $100,000 and 10 years in prison.  Speaker programs typically involve a drug/device company paying a healthcare professional (HCP) who is not an employee of the company to speak to other HCPs about a company product or disease state, sometimes using a presentation developed and approved by the company.

The OIG noted the following illustrative characteristics may indicate speaker programs that could violate the Anti-Kickback Statute:

  • Programs where little or no substantive information is actually presented;
  • Alcohol is available or free at the event, or meals of more than modest value are provided to the attendees;
  • The program’s location is not conducive to exchanging educational information (e.g. restaurants, entertainment/sports venues, etc.);
  • The company sponsors a large number of programs on the same topic or product, especially when there is no recent substantive change in relevant information;
  • There has been a significant period of time with no new medical/scientific information, nor a new FDA-approved or -cleared indication for the product being discussed;
  • Repeat attendance of HCPs to programs on the same topics (as speaker or audience);
  • Attendees include individuals with no legitimate business reason for attendance;
  • The HCP is paid more than fair market value, or is paid compensation based on the HCP’s actual or potential business / sales value to the company.

The OIG noted that this alert is not intended to discourage meaningful training and education, but it also noted that it has significant concerns about companies offering compensation as part of speaker programs to influence health care ordering or prescribing.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the COI Team to assist: UFOLIO-help@ufl.edu.