In a Special Fraud Alert issued on November 16, 2020, the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) raised significant fraud and abuse concerns with companies offering or providing remuneration in connection with physician speaker programs. Speaker programs typically involve one health care professional presenting to others on a company’s drug or device, or a disease state relevant to the company’s products, in exchange for a speaker honorarium. While speaker programs may have some legitimate purposes, HHS-OIG warned of risk the programs create for drug or medical device companies and health care professional participants, if one purpose of the program is to induce or reward federal health care program referrals.
This has been a long time coming. There have been various prosecutions and settlements involving speaker programs over the years. I’m surprised it has taken this long for OIG to issue a Special Fraud Alert.