GoPro HERO6 firstimpressions QuikStories 4K and stabilization

first_imgHappily, GoPro embraced 5GHz WiFi this time around, with the promise of roughly 3x faster file transfers to your iOS or Android phone. Of course, if you’re shooting at the maximum 4K60 resolution that speed bump is going to be offset by larger file sizes too. Shorter clips whip across in a matter of seconds, but there’s still some waiting involved if you have anything longer. You can, at least, leave the transfers running in the background as you do something else with your phone.It’s worth the wait, though. While you can edit footage in your choice of app, GoPro’s QuikStories feature promises to do it all for you. It uses the new GP1 chip on the HERO6 itself, combining data from the accelerometer and other sensors with analysis of the content of your clips to figure out the best parts, like when faces are visible. It’ll even listen out for whoops or cheers – EXTREME sports people love whooping and cheering – and flag those sections as being extra-valuable. That metadata is sent over with the footage itself, and Quik uses it to cook up a highlight reel. It’s not instantaneous, but once it’s complete you can choose between different themes – which each have their own effects and styles – and music. By default QuikStories are square, ideal for Instagram, but you can switch to a more typical wide-aspect; you can also switch from the default 720p to 1080p, and a 60fps frame rate.There’s the option to manually adjust the clips used and the transitions, including dragging out any footage that you don’t want. The title text can be changed, and the overall length of the video that’s generated. Finally, you can upload to Instagram, YouTube, or other services directly from the Quik app, or save it to your phone. The camera itself looks virtually identical to the HERO5. On the front there’s a small monochrome LCD for basic status, plus the protruding lens; on the back, a full-color touchscreen. A button on the side handles power and switching modes; one on the top starts and stops recording. The battery and microSD card load at the bottom, while a mini HDMI port and USB Type-C port are on the side. With both hatches closed, the HERO6 is waterproof to 33 feet. I’m not typically an EXTREME sports person, so GoPro decided to put me in a couple of unusual situations to put the HERO6 through its paces. To see how the new digital stabilization worked, I started out in an electric go-cart. GoPro is calling it the company’s most advanced system yet, and the results certainly look impressive. Compared to the stabilization on the HERO5 there’s noticeably less wobble and wiggle in the corners of the frame. The results are surprisingly good. In the video above I left all the transitions and clip lengths at the default that QuikStories selected, and to be honest there are a couple that I’d probably trim or remove were this not for demo purposes. Obviously the more video you have, the more GoPro has to choose from: the company suggested shooting plenty of little B-roll snippets because they add interest when they’re dropped into the mix. Could you leave QuikStories to do all the heavy lifting? Probably not, though it would only take five or ten minutes work to smooth out any odd decisions by the algorithm. It’s impressive that you can do all that on a phone, too, without having to go anywhere near your desktop or laptop. There is, mind, a version of Quik for Windows a Mac, if you prefer. What I’m really curious to see is how QuikStories handles the GoPro Fusion. The upcoming 360-degree camera not only captures an all-around view, but can crop out a regular 1080p widescreen section from any angle. In effect, you’re getting an infinite number of regular GoPro cameras, looking in every direction from where you mount the Fusion. Sadly that functionality – GoPro calls it OverCapture – won’t be available in the mobile app until early 2018. Until then, it’s hard to argue with what the GoPro HERO6 offers. Yes, it’s not inexpensive at $499, but the dramatic increase in wireless transfer speed – not to mention the bump in video quality and the impressive digital stabilization – means the boost in productivity could well offset the cost for many. It’s available to order now. GoPro’s HERO6 Black has arrived, and while it might not have the slick 360-degree features of the GoPro Fusion, 4K60 support is not to be ignored. Promising better digital stabilization, more involving colors and broader dynamic range, and a handy touch zoom, not to mention swifter wireless, you get a lot for your $499. I put on a helmet and got temporarily EXTREME to see how it holds up. center_img After that, I unceremoniously hoisted my exercise-shy body onto an e-bike and headed out from San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. That was an opportunity to test the HERO6’s voice control – it can recognize commands across ten languages, including switching modes, and starting and stopping recording. Since I often have issues with voice recognition systems (particularly in cars, unless I adopt an unconvincing Valley Girl accent) I was curious to see how GoPro’s version would handle it.Turns out, with the language set to UK English and a fairly loud shout, I had a reasonable success rate. That is, when I could remember the commands: say “GoPro start video” for instance and the camera will do nothing, since it’s listening out for “GoPro start recording” specifically. There’s a list of the supported commands available through the HERO6’s touchscreen, but it’s buried in the settings so doesn’t exactly lend itself to access while in the midst of an activity. It’d be great if, had the camera heard its “GoPro” trigger word but not recognized the specific instruction, it flashed up some suggestions of what you should actually be saying on the display. Once you’ve got all that footage, then you need to transfer it off the camera. If you’re using a PC or Mac, you can plug in via the included USB Type-C cable and drag the files right out: however, it’s worth noting that some resolutions, notably the 4K, use the HEVC codec not H.264 and so you might encounter issues with playback. What GoPro is really pushing is its mobile app. Rising video resolution and quality options has meant file sizes are soaring: there’s a reason the default minimum storage size in 4K-capable smartphones is increasingly becoming 64GB. You can of course switch out the HERO6’s microSD card if you need more capacity, but getting the footage over to a mobile device generally depends on wireless speed. last_img read more

Belkin debuts iPhone Xfocused wireless charging devices

first_imgBelkin also announced the Boost Up Wireless Charging System for commercial uses in public spaces, like restaurants, hotels, and offices, with options for top-mount, flush-mount, and sub-surface mounting.All of these charges will support quick charging on the latest iPhones as well as compatible Samsung smartphones. Belkin didn’t share pricing information but says the lineup will be available starting this summer. With CES 2018 kicking off next week, accessories maker Belkin has unveiled its latest lineup of wireless charging products. With Apple’s new iPhone X and iPhone finally adopting wireless and fast-charging features, it seems Belkin’s new solutions are aimed at these smartphones in particular. The products include four different charging pads, each available in several colors, and all support Qi-enabled devices. Story TimelineBelkin Thunderbolt 3 Express Dock Review: MacBook Pro ports, at a priceYes, the iPhone X supports wireless charging at StarbucksBelkin just fixed Apple’s big headphone jack problemYour iPhone X is about to wirelessly charge fasterBelkin USB-C Express Dock 3.1 HD Reviewcenter_img The four charging pads are part of Belkin’s existing Boost Up line, and each offers up to 10W output for fast charging. The first is the Boost Up Bold Wireless Charging Pad, which is a small update to the Belkin charging pad sold by Apple. The new version is a bit smaller and comes in black, white, pink, and navy color options.The Boost Up Wireless Charging Stand uses its frame to prop up a phone in either landscape or portrait mode while charging, making it great for times when the iPhone X’s Face ID is needed, as opposed to laying flat. It comes in the same black, white, pink, and navy colors as the Bold.Like its name implies, the Boost Up Wireless Car Charging Mount is designed to offer in-car wireless charging, and adjusts to support the iPhone X, iPhone 8, and iPhone 8 Plus. It can be mounted to a car’s dash or window, and includes an extra USB port to charge another non-wireless device.AdChoices广告The Boost Up Dual Wireless Charging Pad essentially acts as two Bold pads connected together, allowing two Qi-enabled smartphones to be charged at once, with each side getting 10W fast charging speeds. last_img read more

Leica CLux features 15x zoom 20MP and 4K video

first_imgThe C-Lux features a 24-360mm F3.3-6.4 15x zoom lens, paired with a 1-inch, 20.1-megapixel sensor. There’s a 49-point autofocus, 10 frames per second continuous shooting, and it can shoot 4K videos up to 30fps at a max of 100Mbps, with a 15-minute time limit. This all comes in a color option of Light Gold, seen above, or Midnight Blue, below.On the back side users will find a 3-inch touchscreen, while the viewfinder packs a 2.33 million-dot resolution. The camera supports both Bluetooth and WiFi for transferring images or remote control. The sobering news is that the C-Lux is essentially a re-badged version of Panasonic’s Lumix ZS200. This isn’t a bad thing when it comes to specs or performance, but it’s important to remember when considering the price. Leica is releasing the C-Lux in July for a whopping $1,050, which is at least $250 more than the Lumix. Both are solid options for a compact zoom, but that iconic red dot logo comes with a hefty markup.SOURCE Leica Long-zoom, compact cameras may not be the hottest devices in photography right now, but that isn’t stopping Leica from bringing a little elegance to the range. The high-end camera-maker has just introduced its new C-Lux model, a compact camera with zoom optics, all in a flattering design. Story TimelinePanasonic Lumix G9 leaked with Leica 200 mm lensLeica’s CL mirrorless camera is retro-deliciousLeica Q Snow limited edition camera is made for the OlympicsHuawei P20 Pro and P20 hands-on: Triple Leica lenses and AIlast_img read more

Instagram may soon let public accounts remove followers

first_imgStory TimelineInstagram Questions Sticker: Download the updateInstagram outage has many users locked out of their accountsInstagram confirms new authentication option that skips SMS codes As it stands, those of us with public Instagram profiles don’t really have a way to quietly rid ourselves of annoying followers. They can be blocked, of course, but when you do this, they aren’t able to access your profile at all, leading them to quickly find out they’ve been blocked and potentially confront you about it. You can also set your profile to private, but plenty of users would prefer to avoid doing that just to stop harassment from a few unsavory people. It may not be long before users with a public profile have a new option for getting rid of unwanted commenters. The company is testing a new feature that will allow public profiles to remove followers, just the same as those with a private profile can. The Verge reached out to Instagram to ask about this feature when some Android users noticed the new functionality.Instagram confirmed that such a feature is indeed in testing, but that’s pretty much all that was said. Just like when you block someone, the people you remove from your followers list won’t be alerted to the change. They’ll still be able to see your profile as well, it just won’t show up in their feed and they won’t be able to comment on your posts.In that way, removing people from your follower list is sort of like letting them down easy, at least when compared to the other options you have your disposal. The scale of this test is unknown at the moment, but it seems to be limited to Android. To see if you have it, simply open your followers list from your profile page. If you see an icon with three vertical dots on the right side of each follower entry, you need only tap that to pull up the “remove follower” prompt.AdChoices广告Assuming everything with this test goes well, it probably won’t be long before we see it roll out to all Instagram users. We’ll keep an ear to the ground for more, so stay tuned.last_img read more

Mini Yours Customised literally lets you put your signature style on your

first_imgOnce the owner designs those parts, they are manufactured using 3D printing and laser lettering. The custom parts are delivered in a few weeks and can be installed by the customer or at a Mini service partner. The parts can be replaced as often as the owner wants.If the car is sold the parts can also be removed and the car returned to normal. That is a big deal since the new buyer certainly won’t want your name on the car. The designs that the buyer creates at the dealership are transferred in digital form to the manufacturing facility where they are built and shipped.All the Mini Yours Customised products are built at a production facility in Germany. The side scuttles of the car can be designed with different colors surface finishes, and patterns in any sequence. Buyers can choose the scale for the finishes and patterns as well.AdChoices广告There are also thematically tailored colors and colors for icons that can be selected by the buyer. Icons include those for travel, leisure activities, and form the history of the mini. Colors available vary with the component being designed and include white, red, blue, grey, silver, and black. Mini has announced a new customization program called Mini Yours Customised. The program allows buyers to customize their Mini cars with personally designed side scuttles, trim for the passenger side in the interior, LED door sills, and LED door projectors. The personalized parts can be designed using a new Online Customiser designed just for the new options. SOURCE: Minilast_img read more

2019 Hyundai Kona Electric pricing confirmed for full EV range

first_imgEarly driving impressions of the 2019 Kona Electric have been mighty positive, with the 150 kW, 201 horsepower electric drivetrain proving to be both capable and perky. What we’ve been waiting for, though, has been pricing. Hyundai promised a competitive sticker for the EV, and it wasn’t joking around. There’ll be three trim options, with the most affordable of the trio being the 2019 Kona Electric SEL. That will start at $36,450 (plus $1,045 destination) and include EV fast charging as standard. Other standard equipment in the SEL trim will be brake regeneration control paddles, blind-spot collision warnings, forward collision-avoidance assist, and lane keeping assist. There’ll also be a reversing camera, keyless entry with push-button start, and a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, SiriusXM, and Bluetooth. A leather-wrapped steering wheel will be accompanied by cloth seats; the driver’s seat is 6-way adjustable, and both front seats have heating. Single-zone climate control – with a driver-only mode to save power – will be included, too, while outside there’ll be 17-inch alloy wheels. Next up, meanwhile, is the 2019 Kona Electric Limited. That will be priced from $41,150 (plus $1,045 destination), and include all of the standard equipment from the SEL. It will add LED headlamps, a power tilt-and-slide sunroof, and leather seating surfaces, however, along with a power driver seat with lumbar adjustment. It also gets high-beam assist, an auto-dimming inside rearview mirror, and wireless charging for your phone. Finally, the 2019 Kona Electric Ultimate starts at $44,650 (plus $1,045 destination). It throws in rain-sensing wipers, pedestrian detection for the forward-collision assistance system, and rear parking sensors. There’ll also a heated steering wheel and ventilated front seats, plus a head-up display and a bigger, 8-inch touchscreen for the infotainment. An Infinity Premium Audio system with eight speakers is standard on the Ultimate trim, too, along with smart cruise control with stop and go. In short, it’s three well-equipped and competitively priced variants on what’s already shaping up to be one of the most interesting EVs of 2019. Certainly, would-be buyers of the Tesla Model 3 who have been holding out for the base model might find their attention being grabbed by Hyundai’s pricing, while the Kona Electric’s crossover styling could well prove more palatable than the Bolt EV’s hatchback design. Availability of the 2019 Kona Electric is kicking off in California initially. Hyundai says that it plans to spread sales to the “ZEV-focused states” in the western and northeastern regions of the US after that. Hyundai has priced up the 2019 Kona Electric, its all-new compact crossover EV, and it looks set to throw the rest of the electric car space into disarray. Announced alongside the regular Kona, which is already on sale in the US with a gas engine, the Kona Electric is capable of up to 258 miles of zero-emission driving. Story TimelineHyundai Kona electric SUV unveiled in New York2018 Hyundai Kona review: A subcompact crossover SUV with an attitude2019 Hyundai Kona Electric EPA rated for 258 miles per chargelast_img read more

Microsoft foldable Surface tip sounds too good to be true

first_imgYou know what they say, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. That’s not going to stop techies and geeks from wishing it were indeed true. Ever since the Courier project, Microsoft has been rumored to be working on or at least playing with the idea of a dual screen or even foldable device. Those rumors have ramped up in recent years thanks to foldable phones and a few sightings in code. Now we’re hearing second-hand word from supply chain sources claiming it’s close to becoming a reality and the details could make fans of the idea drool. As if it weren’t difficult enough to make a foldable phone, IHS Markit, a London-based “source of critical information”, claims that supply chain information point to a foldable Surface that will have the equivalent of two 9-inch screens side by side. That would almost be the equivalent of two iPad minis side-by-side including their big bezels.The news of a foldable Surface isn’t exactly new and patents and renders have gone around trying to depict what it would look like. Lenovo recently showed a prototype of a foldable Thinkpad that is very close to a “true” foldable screen device.IHS Markit’s sources, however, also paint an interesting picture of the device’s hardware and software capabilities. For example, it will be running on Intel’s much-delayed 10 nm processor, which isn’t due until later this year. It will run Windows Core OS (WCOS) but will also support running Android apps. It will also have always-on connectivity, be it LTE or 5G.Those sources claim all that will land in the first quarter or first half of 2020. That almost seems like too generous an estimate, given how foldable screens still face a major problem.last_img read more

GMC weighs luxury EV pickup plans as Ford and Tesla commit

first_imgGeneral Motors is considering electric trucks and pickups, giving its GMC brand a range of EVs as Ford and others weigh into the space. The admission from GM comes a week after Ford confirmed it had begun work on an electric F-150, a zero-emissions version of its best-selling truck. That surprise news came after Ford had already committed to a hybrid F-150. That would pair an unspecified gas engine with an electric motor and batteries, for reduced emission, more torque, and more flexible operation. The hybrid F-150, Ford said back in early 2017, would have a number of advantages over a regular gasoline or diesel truck. For a start, owners could use the electric component of the drivetrain as a mobile generator, to power equipment and tools. The addition of electric drive, meanwhile, would allow for the towing capacity equivalent of a much larger gasoline engine. Since then, of course, we’ve seen other players throw their hat into the ring. Tesla has long maintained that it will build a compelling electric pickup, with a reveal of the new EV potentially as soon as 2020. Startup Rivian made an unexpected announcement of its R1T all-electric pickup last year, coming out of stealth with a new, homegrown platform that could underpin trucks, SUVs, and other vehicles.AdChoices广告Now, GM is seemingly getting in on the action. Duncan Aldred, VP of the GMC brand, confirmed to CNBC that the automaker was weighing electrification of its heaviest trucks. “Certainly it’s something we’re considering,” he said, when asked of the possibility of an entirely electrified GMC Sierra. While nothing is finalized, it’s clear that General Motors is taking electrification seriously. GM CEO Mary Barra has previously committed that the automaker behemoth is on a “path to an all-electric future,” which is widely taken to mean electrified versions of all of its cars. And while a work truck might seem like an unusual place to focus on delivering that goal, there are in fact some good reasons for it. For a start, high-end trucks have healthy margins. Not only are buyers willing to drop sizable sticker prices for the latest breed of luxury pickups and SUVs, the profit margins for such vehicles are equally large for the automakers themselves. That gives plenty of scope to absorb higher-cost components, like battery packs. GM’s focus on electrified vehicles hasn’t only meant adding to its line-up, however. Indeed the company has taken a knife to several models in recent months, including the Chevrolet Volt hybrid and the Cadillac CT6 Plug-In Hybrid. Both were launched with great fanfare and heralded as offering a compelling mixture of gasoline convenience with electric frugality and performance. With the Volt headed to GM’s graveyard, it leaves the Chevrolet Bolt EV – its all-electric hatchback – as the focus. Certainly, with its mid-$30k price tag and roughly 250 miles of range, it helped demonstrate that long-legged EVs needn’t be premium models. Development on the car has also helped GM drive down the cost of batteries and electric drivetrain technology in general. Nonetheless it can’t afford to wait for a perfect price tag to be achieved, particularly with rivals – large and small – already adding all-electric utility models to their roadmaps.last_img read more

This lifesaving wearable could diagnose strokes more accurately

first_img Breakthrough in bioprinting could enable 3D printing of replacement organs UV-activated superglue could literally help to heal broken hearts I mainlined a bag of liquid vitamins — for science Think your kid might have an ear infection? This app can confirm it Groundbreaking A.I. can synthesize speech based on a person’s brain activity As the Apple Watch’s ECG-reading tech has made clear, wearable devices have moved well beyond high-tech gimmicks and become genuine lifesavers. The latest demonstration of this is a new device, developed by researchers from the Army Medical University and China Academy of Engineering Physics. Their “hybrid instrument” uses two different light measurement techniques to build an accurate profile of the body’s blood circulation. In doing so, it could be useful for quickly and accurately identifying strokes, one of the leading causes of death worldwide. Because strokes must be diagnosed within a few hours for effective treatment to take place, this may prove a significant tool for physicians — and potential future patients, too.“We have fabricated a hybrid diffuse optical device that combines near-infrared diffuse optical spectroscopy and diffuse correlation spectroscopy to monitor the [body’s] total hemoglobin concentration, tissue oxygen saturation, and blood flow index noninvasively, which may be helpful to distinguish the type of stroke at [an] emergency site,” Detian Wang, one of the researchers on the project, told Digital Trends.Hua FengNear-infrared diffuse optical spectroscopy, also known as NIRS-DOS, is a technique which analyzes multispectral tissue-scattered light intensity signals to work out the concentrations of things like water, tissue oxy-hemoglobin, and deoxy-hemoglobin. These measurements can then be used to figure out tissue oxygen saturation and blood volume. Diffuse correlation spectroscopy (DCS) is used to monitor the body’s hemoglobin concentration. All of these calculations can be made rapidly using custom software developed by the team.“A stroke can be diagnosed by CT and MRI in the hospital, but it will often miss the best treatment opportunity because of the pre-hospital delay and very limited treatment window of 3 to 4.5 hours,” Hua Feng, another researcher who worked on the project, told us. “Our developed optical diagnostic device is sensitive to hemodynamic parameters, safe, noninvasive, cheap, and portable — which can be equipped in the ambulance, therefore our device can diagnose the stroke at the emergency site.”Liguo Zhu, a third member of the research team, said that the team plans to commercialize the technology, although further clinical studies are needed. It also remains to be seen what form the finished device would take. In studies, the researchers strapped one of their devices to a patient’s forearm and then used an inflatable arm cuff to block off blood circulation around the bicep to affect the oxygen and blood level readings.A paper describing the work was recently published in the journal AIP Advances. Editors’ Recommendationslast_img read more

Applying For Benefits In Online Marketplaces Might Be Daunting

first_imgApplying For Benefits In Online Marketplaces Might Be Daunting This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. The Associated Press reports that the draft version of the application for a three-person family is 15 pages while the online version has 21 steps, some with additional questions. In other implementation news, a Commonwealth Fund study finds that 24 states and the District of Columbia have chosen benchmark plans that specify what must be covered by health insurance policies sold in and out of their online marketplaces.The Associated Press/Washington Post: Will Nation’s Uninsured Get Lost In Long Application For Obama Health Care Plan? Applying for benefits under President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul could be as daunting as doing your taxes. The government’s draft application runs 15 pages for a three-person family. An outline of the online version has 21 steps, some with additional questions (Alonso-Zaldivar, 3/12).Modern Healthcare: Half Of States Have Chosen Benchmark Insurance Plan: ReportA little more than six months before open enrollment begins, 24 states and Washington, D.C., have chosen a benchmark plan that will determine what health insurers must cover in health plans sold in the state exchanges and individual and small-group markets, according to a new study from the Commonwealth Fund. In the rest of the country, the snapshot suggests, the federal government will model the minimum benefits on the largest small-group plan sold in the state. Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, individual and small-group plans must offer an “essential health benefits” package (Zigmond, 3/13).Other headlines include a progress report on Colorado’s health exchange, details regarding a round of new ads related to the health law’s birth control coverage mandate and an analysis of how Native American clinics will fare.  Health Policy Solutions (a Colo. news service): User Fees To Fund Colorado ExchangeColorado’s health exchange board approved administrative fees of 1.4 percent on insurance plans that will be passed on to customers to help fund the exchange. If Colorado lawmakers do not back a proposed measure that aims to divert cash from Colorado’s high-risk health insurance fund — Cover Colorado — to the exchange to help cover their costs, those fees could rise to an estimated 3.4 percent. Cover Colorado will no longer exist because the federal Affordable Care Act requires commercial health insurance companies to accept all customers, including those with serious health problems and pre-existing conditions. The high-risk pool is expected to have some remaining funds after it pays all its claims. The funds also came from consumers who paid higher health insurance rates to cover people who couldn’t get insurance (Kerwin McCrimmon, 3/12).Roll Call: Rival Lobby Campaigns Focus On Birth Control MandateActivists on both sides of the abortion debate have unleashed new ads and grass-roots lobbying drives in the ongoing fight over birth control requirements in the 2010 health care law. A campaign dubbed “Birth Control: We All Benefit” launched by the Planned Parenthood Federation of America includes TV ads in Kentucky that targeted Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky (Carney, 3/13). HealthyCal: Obamacare Means More Funding For Native American ClinicsMolin Malicay, director of the Sonoma County Indian Health Project clinic, has read all 976 pages of the Affordable Care Act—the legislation that created what’s become known as Obamacare. His copy has 46 tabs, each marking a point where Native Americans are mentioned. The country’s First Peoples are uniquely affected by the federal reforms. But because federal responsibility for tribal health is already in place, individual Native Americans may not notice the effects of Obamacare as much as Native American clinic directors (Shanafelt, 3/13).last_img read more

Data Hub Will Be Key To Health Law But Also Raises Privacy

first_imgData Hub Will Be Key To Health Law But Also Raises Privacy Concerns This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. Bloomberg examines the complications involved in building the hub that will connect the databases of seven federal agencies.Bloomberg: Privacy Fears Loom For Affordable Care ActThe biggest overhaul of the U.S. health-care system in 50 years has spawned one of the most complex computer projects in the government’s history. Dubbed the Hub, the $267 million computer system built by a unit of UnitedHealth Group Inc. (UNH) is one of the most important determiners of whether the Affordable Care Act succeeds. The hub ties together the databases of seven U.S. agencies, ranging from the Internal Revenue Service to the Peace Corps, to determine which Americans can buy medical coverage and get U.S. subsidies through the new government-run insurance exchanges (Wayne, 7/31).And another news outlet looks at some of the troubles for doctors and hospitals with digital records.California Healthline: Effort To Move Patient Data Online May Spur A More Efficient, Affordable NetworkThe sharing of health care data electronically is in its beginning stages and implementation of new record-keeping systems is creating some confusion among health professionals across the country. But that can be a good thing according to a number of health experts who gathered last week at a health information conference in Santa Rosa. “I’m glad that we’ve got a bunch of stuff that doesn’t work as well as we’d like it to,” said Mark Frisse, a professor at Vanderbilt University’s School of Medicine in Tennessee. … Many electronic health records can’t speak to each other to enable smooth and secure sharing of patient health information and the digital networks that connect these electronic systems — health information exchanges — are largely unable to accept data passed between providers, Frisse said (Hart, 7/30).last_img read more

Bill Seeks TeamBased Approach To Caring For Medicare Patients With Chronic Illness

first_imgBill Seeks Team-Based Approach To Caring For Medicare Patients With Chronic Illness Sen. Ron Wyden plans to unveil a bill to encourage team-based care in the program for older and disabled Americans. In the meantime, Medicare readies to deliver payment data for individual doctors on a “case-by-case” basis.Modern Healthcare: Lawmaker’s Bill Encourages Team-Based Care For Chronically Ill Medicare PatientsSen. Ron Wyden and three other lawmakers are expected to introduce bipartisan legislation Wednesday intended to remove obstacles they say prevent Medicare providers from focusing on chronically ill patients (Zigmond, 1/15).Medpage Today: Medicare To Release Doc Pay Data This SpringMedicare will begin releasing payment data for individual physicians on a “case-by-case basis” as soon as this spring, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced Tuesday. … The agency will evaluate requests for individual physician payment information starting in mid-March — 60 days after the publication of a Federal Register notice explaining the policy, Blum said (1/14).And insurers aren’t waiting for proposed cuts to pressure lawmakers to preserve money for private Medicare plans –Politico: Insurance Industry Ad Blitz To Preempt Medicare CutsThis time around, the insurance industry isn’t even waiting for the Obama administration to threaten cuts to private Medicare plans: It’s launching a peremptory strike. America’s Health Insurance Plans announced an all-out advertising campaign Tuesday. Maintaining the same “Seniors are Watching” theme of more general ads last fall, the new seven-figure campaign is the group’s biggest mobilization to date for Medicare Advantage, a spokesman said. It comes in advance of an annual notice that sets the plans’ payment rates for the upcoming year and is focused on that issue (Norman, 1/14). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.last_img read more

Missing Paperwork Puts At Risk Coverage For Tens Of Thousands

first_img This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. Missing Paperwork Puts At Risk Coverage For Tens Of Thousands According to the Obama administration, as many as 115,000 people could lose the new insurance they obtained under the health law because they did not prove they were legal immigrants or U.S. citizens who were eligible for that coverage. Another 363,000 people must submit documentation to verify their incomes by Sept. 30 or lose their subsidies. These two numbers combined represent about 10 percent of the people who signed up through the online insurance marketplaces.    The New York Times: U.S. To End Coverage Under Health Care Law For Tens Of ThousandsThe Obama administration said on Monday that it planned to terminate health insurance for 115,000 people on Oct. 1 because they had failed to prove that they were United States citizens or legal immigrants eligible for coverage under the Affordable Care Act. It also told 363,000 people that they could lose financial aid because their incomes could not be verified (Pear, 9/15).Los Angeles Times: Many May Lose Obamacare Coverage Because Of Missing PaperworkSome 115,000 people are poised to be cut from insurance rolls at the end of the month because they haven’t verified their citizenship or immigration status. Another 363,000 people haven’t sent in the necessary forms proving their income, a key requirement for calculating the size of government subsidies some consumers are eligible to receive under the law. Together, that represents about 10% of those who signed up for coverage on new federal marketplaces created by the law (Levey, 9/15).The Wall Street Journal: Tens Of Thousands Likely To Lose Health Insurance At End Of SeptemberThe government is now set to inform insurers to terminate at the end of the month the coverage those people bought through A provision in the Affordable Care Act bars people living in the U.S. without authorization from obtaining coverage through the site. Federal officials also said they would send notices to about 279,000 people whose income can’t be verified, giving them until Sept. 30 to submit further documentation. Those people won’t lose their coverage if they don’t respond, but the tax credits that offset the cost of their premiums could be suspended (Radnofsky, 9/15).The Washington Post: 115,000 Immigrants To Lose Health Coverage By Sept. 30 Because Of Lack Of Status DataThose individuals can still send in the needed information to the federal exchange and if they are found eligible, they will be able to regain coverage, officials said. They will be considered under a special category reserved for people who have experienced a major life change, such as having a baby or getting divorced or losing a job with health insurance. Separately, about 363,000 consumers who have coverage could lose financial subsidies for their insurance premiums unless they clear up information about their incomes that differs from that on federal tax records. If those individuals don’t provide updated income information by Sept. 30, federal health officials will adjust their premiums to “reflect what we have in our records,” said Andy Slavitt, principal deputy administrator at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which manages, the federal exchange (Sun, 9/15).Reuters: U.S. Says 115,000 Could Lose Obamacare Insurance Over ImmigrationThe Obama administration on Monday said 115,000 people in 36 states could lose their private health insurance under Obamacare after Sept. 30, because of unresolved data problems involving their citizenship or immigration status. Another 363,000 people could see their insurance costs change, due to problems involving income data that is used to determine whether enrollees qualify for federal subsidies to help pay premiums on health plans obtained through the federal insurance marketplace, according to the administration. The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which operates the federal marketplace for consumers in 36 states, said the number of people with data problems is down from June when 966,000 had citizenship or immigration discrepancies and 1.6 million people had problem data involving income (9/15). USA Today: Feds Give Immigrants More Time On Health CareAbout 115,000 of 966,000 people who bought plans on and owed more information about their immigration status have unresolved issues, Andy Slavitt, principal deputy administrator at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said. These people were given a deadline of Sept. 5 to submit information — they now have until Sept. 30 to provide proof of their citizenship, or they will lose coverage. After that date, those people can reapply if they can prove citizenship even though the open enrollment period is closed. The other 851,000 people either have had their cases resolved, or the cases are in the process of being resolved. Slavitt would not comment on how the resolved cases were decided. “The good news is they have been able to resolve one way or another most of the problem applications where federal databases could not verify income or legal status,” says health care consultant Kip Piper, a former state and federal Medicare official (O’Donnell, 9/15).McClatchy: Feds Offer Lifeline To 115,000 Facing Loss Of Health CoverageAfter failing to respond to multiple outreach attempts, more than 100,000 people could lose their federal marketplace health coverage on Sept. 30, while more than three times that many could see their premiums increase, if they fail to verify their income, U.S. residency or immigration status as required by the Obama administration. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced the deadline on Monday when it began sending out cancellation warnings to 115,000 people in 36 states who haven’t yet provided the proper citizenship and immigration documents with their applications for coverage (Pugh, 9/15).The Fiscal Times: Thousands Of Obamacare Enrollees To Lose CoverageSome 115,000 people who signed up for health insurance through the federal marketplace this year will lose their coverage at the end of the month for failing to provide the government with proof of citizenship or immigration status. Officials from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) said they sent out notices to 300,000 enrollees last month, asking them to verify their citizenship, which is required to receive health coverage under Obamacare (Ehley, 9/15).last_img read more

Lawmakers At Hearing Hope To Shine Light On Opaque Mysterious Inner Workings

first_img Several states are probing pharmacy-benefit managers’ business practices in government-sponsored health programs, adding to the scrutiny the middlemen face in Washington for their role in the cost of drugs. At least three state attorneys general are investigating PBMs, in addition to other state probes looking into how the companies contract with Medicaid and other programs. CVS Health Corp., Cigna Corp.’s Express Scripts unit and UnitedHealth Group Inc., which dominate the PBM market, are scheduled to appear before the Senate Finance Committee in Washington Tuesday to discuss their role as the nation grapples with soaring drug prices. (Langreth, 4/9) NPR: Senators Set To Grill PBMs About Drug Costs Kaiser Health News: Consumers Rejected Drug Plan That Mirrors Trump Administration Proposal Bloomberg: Drug Middlemen Face State Probes Over ‘Complex’ Pricing System  Lawmakers At Hearing Hope To Shine Light On Opaque, Mysterious Inner Workings Of Pharmacy Benefit Managers Congress is expected to grill executives from these middlemen companies that have absorbed much of the blame for rising drug prices. “They’re kind of a secret organization,” says Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). “I ask people to explain what they’re doing and nobody seems to give you the same answer twice.” Grassley is chairman of the Finance Committee and Tuesday’s hearing is the panel’s third on drug prices this year. Meanwhile, it’s not just Congress that’s investigating the role of PBMs in the drug cost issue — states are getting in on the action as well. Insurers and hospitals want the CMS to amend its proposed rule eliminating the safe harbor for Medicare Part D and Medicaid managed-care drug rebates to include new requirements for drugmakers. In comments on the proposed rule, several companies and groups expressed concern that the change eliminating the safe harbor for rebates and replacing it with a safe harbor for point-of-sale discounts won’t force drugmakers to lower prices. In addition they said implementing the changes in January 2020 would be too soon. (King, 4/8) Modern Healthcare: Change Drug Rebate Rule To Keep Drugmakers Honest, Hospitals Urge This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. Unraveling how much of a prescription drug price gets swallowed by “middlemen” is at the forefront of Tuesday’s drug price hearing in the Senate. One thing bound to come up: rebates. Both major political parties have shown interest in remedying high drug prices, and drugmakers have bemoaned how rebates to middlemen keep them from reaping every dollar associated with those price tags. (Lupkin, 4/9) Consumers, lawmakers and industry players all seem to agree that prescription drugs prices are too high. What they can’t always agree on is whom to blame. On Tuesday, though, fingers are expected to point toward pharmacy benefit managers, the industry’s mysterious middlemen. The Senate Finance Committee will hear from executives from the biggest pharmacy benefit managers, led by CVS Caremark and Cigna’s Express Scripts. (Kodjak, 4/8) And in other pharmaceutical news —last_img read more

Canadas economy shrinks on declines in trade manufacturing

first_imgCanada’s economy shrinks on declines in trade, manufacturing OTTAWA — Statistics Canada says real gross domestic product decreased by 0.1 per cent in November.The decrease partly offset an increase of 0.3 per cent in October.The report was in line with estimates that the contraction would be 0.1 per cent for the month, according to Thomson Reuters Eikon.The overall move lower came despite gains in 13 of the 20 industrial sectors tracked.The wholesale trade sector fell 1.1 per cent in November as machinery, equipment and supplies wholesaling pulled back 2.1 per cent.The manufacturing sector also contracted 0.5 per cent for the month, the third decline in four months. Recommended For YouCompany Profile for Organigram Holdings Inc.TSX flat as healthcare offsets materials’ gainsMarkets updateJapan, South Korea fail to mend dispute with frosty meetingICE Futures Canada quotes and cash prices Reddit ← Previous Next → Featured Stories What you need to know about passing the family cottage to the next generation More Join the conversation → Share this storyCanada’s economy shrinks on declines in trade, manufacturing Tumblr Pinterest Google+ LinkedIn Twittercenter_img advertisement Email Comment 4 Comments January 31, 20198:47 AM ESTLast UpdatedJanuary 31, 20198:56 AM EST Filed under News Economy The Canadian Press Sponsored By: Facebook Container ships at the DP World marine terminal at Port Metro Vancouver. Statistics Canada says real gross domestic product decreased by 0.1 per cent in November.Canadian Press/Darryl Dick / THE CANADIAN PRESS last_img read more

Nikola announces batteryelectric semi will join fuel cells in its lineup

first_imgSource: Electric Vehicles Magazine Nikola Motor Company, which has been developing fuel cell trucks, recently announced that it also intends to offer some battery-electric models. The Nikola Two and Nikola Tre (European version) will be available in BEV versions, while the biggest truck in the lineup, Nikola One, will remain FCV only.The company plans to present the new models later this year, with three battery options: 500 kWh; 750 kWh and 1 MWh.Among the many hydrogen skeptics, an “I told you so” narrative started making the rounds. Some speculated that Nikola may end up abandoning fuel cells by the time its trucks make it to market. “It’s not too late to switch to BEVs,” wrote InsideEVs’ Mark Kane.However, Nikola immediately refuted that line of thinking in a Twitter post: “H2 is 5,000 lbs lighter than BEV and is cheaper for long haul applications even with H2 costs. BEV is for inner cities and non weight sensitive applications. Nikola is not phasing [out] hydrogen at all, we will see 50:1 more hydrogen orders but some applications BEV works great.”Nikola expects the Nikola Two with a 1 MWh battery pack to deliver a range of 400 miles, or 300 miles in cold weather.The company is calling for peaceful coexistence: “Fuel Cell can’t be beat long haul and BEV is good option for short haul. World needs both. ICE is enemy, not hydrogen or BEV.” Source: InsideEVslast_img read more

Delfast maker of 380 km range electric bicycle has a new bike

first_imgDelfast is no stranger to long-range e-bikes. Now the company has a new model out that is specifically designed for delivery riders. It seems with these specs though that there could be a lot of commuters lining up to purchase the bike as well. more…The post Delfast, maker of 380 km range electric bicycle, has a new bike for deliveries appeared first on Electrek. Source: Charge Forwardlast_img

Elevate Your FCPA Knowledge At The FCPA Institute – Nashville May 45

first_imgIn short, the FCPA Institute is offered as a refreshing and cost-effective alternative to a typical FCPA conference and is designed to elevate the FCPA learning experience for a diverse group of professionals such as in-house and outside counsel; compliance personnel; finance, accounting, and auditing professionals; business executives and others seeking sophisticated FCPA information.At the end of the FCPA Institute, participants can elect to have their knowledge assessed and can earn a certificate of completion upon passing a written assessment tool. In this way, successful completion of the FCPA Institute represents a value-added credential for professional development. In addition, attorneys who complete the FCPA Institute are eligible to receive Continuing Legal Education credits and prior FCPA Institute participants have successfully obtained continuing education units from the Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics.To best facilitate the unique learning experience that the FCPA Institute represents, attendance at each FCPA Institute is capped at 30 participants and below is what other professionals have said about their FCPA Institute experience.“Unlike other FCPA conferences where one leaves with a spinning head and unanswered questions, I left the FCPA Institute with a firm understanding of the nuts and bolts of the FCPA, the ability to spot issues, and knowledge of where resources can be found that offer guidance in resolving an issue.  The limited class size of the FCPA Institute ensured that all questions were answered and the interactive discussion among other compliance professionals was fantastic.” (Rob Foster, In-House Counsel, Oil and Gas Company)“The FCPA Institute was one of the best professional development investments of time and money that I have made since law school. The combination of black letter law and practical insight was invaluable. I would highly recommend the FCPA Institute to any professional who has compliance, ethics, legal or international business responsibilities.” (Norm Keith, Partner, Fasken Martineau, Toronto).“The FCPA Institute is very different than other FCPA conferences I have attended.  It was interactive, engaging, thought-provoking and at the completion of the Institute I left feeling like I had really learned something new and useful for my job.  The FCPA Institute is a must-attend for all compliance folks (in-house or external).” (Robert Wieck, CPA, CIA, CFE, Forensic Audit Senior Manager, Oracle Corporation)The FCPA Institute is a top-flight conference that offers an insightful, comprehensive review of the FCPA enforcement landscape.  Professor Koehler’s focus on developing practical skills in an intimate setting really sets it apart from other FCPA conferences.  One of the best features of the FCPA Institute is its diversity of participants and the ability to learn alongside in-house counsel, company executives and finance professionals. (Blair Albom, Associate, Debevoise & Plimpton)“The FCPA Institute was a professionally enriching experience and substantially increased my understanding of the FCPA and its enforcement. Professor Koehler’s extensive insight and practical experience lends a unique view to analyzing enforcement actions and learning compliance best practices. I highly recommend the FCPA Institute to practitioners from all career stages.” (Sherbir Panag, MZM Legal, Mumbia, India)“The FCPA Institute provided an in-depth look into the various forces that have shaped, and that are shaping, FCPA enforcement.  The diverse group of participants provided unique insight into how, at a practical level, various professionals evaluate risk and deal with FCPA issues on a day-to-day basis.  The small group setting, the interactive nature of the event, and the skills assessment test all set the FCPA Institute apart from other FCPA conferences or panel-based events.” (John Turlais, Senior Counsel, Foley & Lardner)To learn more about the FCPA Institute – Nashville and to register, click here. Could someone in your firm or organization benefit from a two-day, active learning experience devoted to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act?If so, please consider the FCPA Institute which is next making a stop in Nashville on May 4-5.Since 2014, the FCPA Institute has elevated the FCPA knowledge and practical skills of over 100 diverse professionals through active learning and the below video introduces you to the FCPA Institute; how the FCPA Institute is different than other FCPA conferences; and the substantive knowledge and practical skills participants will gain by attending the FCPA Institute.last_img read more

Foreign Subsidiaries Of French Pharma Company Sanofi Allegedly Bribe Kazakh And Middle

first_img Elevate Your FCPA Research There are several subject matter tags in this post. However, only subscribers to FCPA Professor’s premium search feature can see and use them in research. Efficient and cost-effective FCPA research is just a click away. If history is any guide, September is likely to be an active month for Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement as the SEC’s fiscal year ends.Sure enough, yesterday the SEC announced an enforcement action against Paris-based pharmaceutical company Sanofi. The conduct at issue focused on employees and agents of the company’s subsidiaries in Kazakstan and various Middle Eastern countries providing things of value to “foreign officials, including healthcare professionals, in order to improperly influence them and increase sales of Sanofi products.”In doing so, the enforcement action once again raises the policy issue of the U.S. bringing an enforcement action against a foreign company (domiciled in a country also party to the OECD Convention) for its interaction with non-U.S. officials. (See here for a prior post).In summary fashion,  the SEC’s order states:“The funds used for the illicit payments were generated through fake expenses for purportedly legitimate travel and entertainment expense, clinical trial and consulting fees, product samples, round table meeting expenses, distributor discounts, and credit notes to distributors which were improperly recorded as legitimate expenses in Sanofi’s books and records. Throughout this period, Sanofi failed to devise and maintain a sufficient system of internal accounting controls and lacked an effective anti-corruption compliance program with regard to Kazakhstan, Levant [which includes the countries Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and the region of Palestine), and the Gulf [which includes the countries of Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Yemen, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates].Deficiencies in the internal accounting controls and compliance program of Sanofi also led to similar improper conduct in connection with sales in other countries in which Sanofi operates.”As to Kazakhstan, the order states:“Between 2007 and 2011, senior managers of Sanofi KZ [a Kazakh company which engaged distributors to facilitate the sale and distribution of pharmaceutical products with its own sales and marketing staff to promote Sanofi pharmaceutical products] engaged in a scheme to bribe foreign officials to corruptly influence the award of tenders at public institutions. The funds paid to foreign officials were derived from discounts and credit notes extended to several distributors who colluded with senior managers to kick back funds to Sanofi employees in Kazakhstan which were then used to pay Kazakh officials.The scheme took several stages to execute. First, senior managers of Sanofi KZ identified to a distributor a public tender for pharmaceuticals that could be filled by Sanofi products. Second, the distributor submitted a bid for the public tender and, when awarded, notified Sanofi of its need to purchase products to fulfill the tender. Third, the sale price between Sanofi and the distributor included a pre-determined discount or credit note from the sale price between the distributor and the public institution. Fourth, from the amount of the discount or credit note, Sanofi and the distributor were able to designate a portion as the funds which were used to bribe Kazakh officials. Fifth, once the funds which were used to bribe Kazakh officials were earmarked, the distributor kicked back those funds to Sanofi employees who then delivered the illicit proceeds to Kazakh officials. The scheme typically involved providing a 20-30 percent discount to the distributors, a portion of which was then used as the funds from which bribes were paid to Kazakh officials. The funds kicked back to Sanofi employees were tracked in internal spreadsheets and referred to as “marzipans.”At the time, Sanofi had no standardized commercial policy for distributor discounts and did not review the discounts provided by local management. During the relevant period, tender sales increased by over 200 percent and included top selling products of Sanofi. The distributors involved in the conduct were some of the largest distributors by sales in Kazakhstan. As a result of the improper conduct in Kazakhstan, Sanofi derived profits equivalent to approximately USD 11,580,099.”As to Levant, the order states:“From 2011 to 2013, employees and agents of Sanofi Levant [a Lebanon company which engaged distributors to facilitate the sale and distribution of pharmaceutical products with its own sales and marketing staff to promote Sanofi pharmaceutical products] participated in a series of schemes to pay foreign officials to boost sales of Sanofi products through increased prescriptions. The schemes included sponsorships, gifts, donations, product samples, consulting agreements, peer-to-peer meetings, clinical studies, and grants. The schemes were executed across the various business lines in Levant and included the top selling products of Sanofi in the region. Some of the schemes involved the participation by senior managers of Sanofi Levant. The instances of improper conduct were not isolated and spanned across government agencies as well as private institutions.An example of the corrupt conduct is a 2012 request by an HCP of a large public hospital in Jordan for 24 vials of Taxotere as product samples. At the time, corporate policy for product samples required a medical justification. Taxotere is a product used to treat cancer and is one of the most expensive products sold in Levant. The oncology manager requested a justification from the sales representative and was told[HCP] is a KOL [key opinion leader] Doctor, our Consumption in [hospital] is 124 vials, But we Don’t Give Dr.s in Institution Pt.Support [in public hospital product samples for patients]. But He Asked as a Favor.The oncology manager then approved the request. Medical Affairs was not involved in reviewing or approving the request and no justification was provided regarding the medical use or appropriateness. The quantity provided as samples was nearly 20 percent of the hospital’s purchases. The HCP requesting the samples was a tender committee member at the hospital.The same HCP requesting samples of Taxotere in 2012 was also provided with consulting, speaking, and clinical trial fees over a period of years despite the lack of documentation of other support to demonstrate the services had been provided. Sanofi paid to the HCP the equivalent in local currency of USD 28,900 in consulting fees and, USD 5500 in speaking fees. Sanofi also paid to the HCP USD 125,997 in clinical trial fees. The consulting fees were purportedly related to hosting events and training for HCPs in Iraq. No supporting documentation was found for any of the purported consultancy services. While the clinical trial fees were approved by Medical Affairs, the HCP has never provided reports of findings or observations. The HCP, who provided the ostensible speaking, consulting, and clinical trial services to Sanofi, requested that the consulting and clinical trial fees be paid by check to an unrelated individual. Sanofi accommodated the request to pay the unrelated individual without explanation or justification.The practice of engaging as consultants influential HCPs who provided vague services was also performed with HCPs in the private sector. As an example, Sanofi Levant retained as a consultant the services of a prominent pharmacist in Lebanon for several years through 2013. The pharmacist received annual payments denominated in United States dollars of no less than USD 42,000 and in a five-year period received a total of USD 237,300. The consulting services required included preparing training programs and conducting speaking events however, evidence of the receipt of those services is sparse or nonexistent. Sanofi failed to require sufficient documentation of the performance of services before making payments to its consultants.As a result of the improper conduct in Levant, Sanofi derived profits equivalent to approximately USD 4,200,000.”As to the Gulf, the order states:“In the countries comprising Sanofi Gulf [a company organized in the United Arab Emirates which engaged 31 distributors across the relevant countries to facilitate the sale of Sanofi pharmaceutical products and which maintained its own sales and marketing staff to promote Sanofi pharmaceutical products], sales managers and medical representatives in the Primary Care business unit engaged in a long-standing scheme to submit false travel and entertainment reimbursement claims, pool the illicit proceeds of the false schemes, and distribute the illicit proceeds to HCPs in the private sector in order to increase prescriptions of Sanofi products.The false travel and entertainment claims were made in connection with fake round table meetings with HCPs and facilitated by fake receipts issued by collusive vendors known to facilitate such activity. The scheme was quite simple and involved local sales managers. Medical representatives were instructed by their sales managers to submit a doctored receipt for a round table meeting that never occurred. Medical representatives then submitted a doctored receipt for reimbursement as a legitimate travel and entertainment expense. The sales managers approved the travel and entertainment expense submission and the medical representatives were reimbursed. Medical representatives gave the sales managers the illicit proceeds from the fraudulent reimbursement and then pooled the illicit proceeds together into a slush fund to pay HCPs. Managers tracked the incoming pool of illicit proceeds from medical representatives and the disposition of illicit proceeds to HCPs who were paid to increase prescriptions of Sanofi products.The Primary Care business unit was responsible for several high sales volume products in the Gulf. The scheme employed by sales managers and medical representatives was executed from at least 2012 to 2015. One medical representative estimated that 70 percent of the travel and entertainment expense submissions of the Primary Care business unit were related to the scheme. From 2012 to 2015, Sanofi Gulf spent the equivalent of approximately USD 4 million for round table meetings with HCPs, although only a portion was used in the scheme.In a 2015 internal audit of commercial operations in the Gulf, one of the findings concerned the lack of monitoring of outsourced distributor promotional activities. An example of a specific risk identified in the report included: “Interactions with HCPs organized by the outsourced sales force are not compliant with Sanofi guidelines. Selection of HCPs, attendance list and detailed hospitality costs were neither documented nor reviewed by Sanofi.” Similar control weaknesses and failures in documentation of round table meetings conducted by distributors on behalf of Sanofi were found. Another finding identified the many internal control lapses, including the use of cash to make payment to HCPs, surrounding round table meetings conducted by Sanofi itself and lack of documentation and approvals related to attendance of round table meetings. A full audit of the commercial operations in the Gulf had not been conducted since 2007, eight years earlier.As a result of the improper conduct in the Gulf, Sanofi derived profits equivalent to approximately USD 1,751,567.”Based on the above, the SEC’s order finds that Sanofi violated: (i) the books and records provisions “by falsely recording improper payments made by employees and agents as legitimate selling and marketing expenses, whose results were then consolidated and reported by Sanofi on its consolidated financial statements;” and (ii) the internal controls provisions “by failing to devise and maintain sufficient accounting controls to detect and prevent the making of improper payments to foreign officials.”As noted in the SEC’s release, without admitting or denying the findings, Sanofi agreed to a cease-and-desist order and to pay $17.5 million in disgorgement, $2.7 million in prejudgment interest, and a civil penalty of $5 million. In the release, SEC FCPA Unit Chief Charles Cain stated:“Bribery in connection with pharmaceutical sales remains as a significant problem despite numerous prior enforcement actions involving the industry and life sciences more generally. While bribery risk can impact any industry, this matter illustrates that more work needs to be done to address the particular risks posed in the pharmaceutical industry.”Under the heading “Remedial Efforts,” the SEC’s order states:“During the course of the investigation, Respondent provided regular briefings regarding the facts developed in its internal investigation in Kazakhstan, Levant, and the Gulf, and with respect to other countries. Respondent timely conveyed the facts it learned in the course of its investigation, including facts that the Commission would not have been able to readily and independently discover, produced and highlighted particularly relevant documents, promptly responded to additional requests by the Commission staff, and provided translations of documents as needed.Respondent also provided information regarding its remedial efforts, enhancements to its compliance program and implementation of initiatives. Prior to the Commission’s investigation, Respondent had begun independently enhancing its compliance program by, among other things, developing a centralized compliance program, revamping its internal controls and procedures over HCP expenditures, increasing the number of its compliance officers globally, enhancing the operation of local compliance committees, and placing compliance personnel in high-risk local markets. Additionally, it enhanced its (1) policies governing interactions with HCPs and government officials, gifts, travel, meetings, congresses, contributions, and ISTs; (2) anti-corruption training, audits, and due diligence procedures for third-party agents; and (3) monitoring for certain Sanofi-sponsored events for HCPs. Respondent also reports that it has terminated 121 employees, including senior local business managers, accepted resignations from another 14 employees, and disciplined 49 employees.”The SEC’s order notes that it is “not imposing a civil penalty in excess of $5 million based upon [Sanofi’s] cooperation in a Commission investigation or related enforcement action.”As a condition of settlement, Sanofi also agreed to “report on the status of its remediation and implementation of compliance for a period of at least two years.” As stated in the order:“During this two-year period, Respondent shall conduct and prepare self reviews, as well as related follow-up, and submit written reports of the results, as set forth in the Compliance Program Review Plan (“Plan”) submitted with its Offer of Settlement and report to the Commission staff as outlined below:[Sanofi]] shall submit to the Commission staff a written report within six (6) months of the entry of this Order setting forth a complete description of its Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”) and anti-corruption related remediation efforts to date, its proposals reasonably designed to improve the policies and procedures of [Company] for ensuring compliance with the FCPA and other applicable anticorruption laws, and the parameters of the subsequent reviews (the “Initial Self Report”). […][Sanofi] shall undertake two (2) follow up reviews (the “Follow up Self Reports”), incorporating any comments provided by the Commission staff on the previous report(s), and following up on matters identified in earlier reports, to further monitor and assess whether the policies and procedures of [Company] are reasonably designed to detect and prevent violations of the FCPA and other applicable anti-corruption laws.”Sanofi issued this release which states:“The settlement relates to an investigation by the SEC and U. S. Department of Justice (DOJ) of certain local activities outside the United States and France, namely, in Kazakhstan, Jordan, Lebanon, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Yemen, Oman, the United Arab Emirates and the Palestinian territory during the period 2006 to 2015. As part of the settlement, the company neither admits nor denies it engaged in any wrongdoing.Under the terms of the settlement, Sanofi has consented to pay $25,206,145 and has also agreed to a 2-year period of self-reporting on the effectiveness of its enhanced internal controls and anti-bribery and corruption compliance program. In announcing the settlement, the SEC highlighted Sanofi’s full cooperation with the investigation as well as its strengthened compliance actions.As disclosed on March 7, 2018, in the company’s annual report (SEC Form 20-F and French “Document de Référence”), the DOJ has also completed its related investigation and has declined to pursue any action.”In the release, Olivier Brandicourt (Sanofi’s Chief Executive Officer) stated:“Sanofi requires all our employees to act with integrity and to follow the highest standards of conduct. We have worked diligently to strengthen our compliance program worldwide and we are pleased the DOJ and SEC recognized these efforts and our close cooperation We will continue to strengthen internal controls, anti-bribery and corruption compliance programs, and our oversight and training of teams worldwide. Conducting our activities in an ethical way is something that our company takes very seriously.”On the day of the enforcement action, Sanofi’s ADR’s closed down 1%. Elevate Your Researchlast_img read more

PRIVATE BLOG – The Dow for June 2019

first_img PRIVATE BLOG – The Dow into July » Categories: Dow Jones PRIVATE BLOG – The Dow for June 2019Private blog posts are exclusively available to Socrates subscribers. To sign-up for Socrates or to learn more, please visit « The Dow into June 2019 last_img