OIG changed the regulatory environment by requiring companies to justify their intentions, as well as account for their payments
to consultants (see "Crimes in the Closet"). To steer clear of an OIG investigation, companies must specify criteria for selecting
and paying consultants. Federal regulators no longer accept, for instance, paying 30 doctors as "consultants" to listen to
a conference call. If OIG argues that the doctors were paid to hear a pitch, there may be no defense. Firms do have a right
to solicit input from customers and pay fair market value for it (see Medical Education Meetings, a Pharm Exec supplement, Sept. 2005). But whatever else it does, a company must document, in advance, why it hired a particular consultant,
and why it paid the specific fee. In the process, a company may learn how much it pays its KOLs.
Kashif Chaudhry is a principal and Anne Love is a consultant at Clarescent LLC. They can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org