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Novartis pays millions in fines for bribing doctors

Big Pharma profitPharmaceutical company Novartis has agreed to pay more than $345 million to U.S. authorities to resolve charges that it bribed health care providers in different countries to boost prescriptions for its medicines.

Bribing health care providers in several countries violated the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

In Greece, Novartis offered financial incentives to employees of state-owned and state-controlled hospitals and clinics to increase the sale of Novartis-branded pharmaceutical products. The bribes included paying for employees to travel to international medical congresses. Novartis also made improper payments for an epidemiological study that was intended to increase sales of certain Novartis-branded prescription drugs. The drug company agreed to pay $233 million alone in criminal penalties for its actions in Greece.

“The agreement we’re announcing today shows that there will be a heavy price paid by companies that violate our laws, whether at home or overseas,” U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito said in a press release. “Just as importantly, it includes a framework for compliance reforms that should ensure that these companies conduct their business legally moving forward.”

Douglas Korneski, the FBI Special Agent in Charge added: “I say this to every company doing business on the stock exchange – if you think you can ignore the rules or make up your own, if your business model includes bribery or a quid pro quo, you can count the days until we show up on your company’s doorstep. We will protect our citizens, our economy, our way of life, and bring to justice anyone who breaks the law.”

Do you worry about cozy relationships between doctors and drug companies that might promote more expensive prescriptions? Share your concerns with Voices for Affordable Health.