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News 08 Aug 12

Pharmaceutical Giant Settles Bribe Cases

The world’s biggest drug-maker, US company Pfizer Inc. agreed to pay $60,2 millions to settle foreign bribery cases in eight countries including Croatia, Serbia and Bulgaria.

BIRN
Centrum multivitamins are shown on the packaging line at the Pfizer plant in Montreal | Photo by Beta/AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Graham Hughes

According to the US Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC, Pfizer’s overseas subsidiaries in Serbia, Croatia, Bulgaria, Italy, Bohemia, Kazahstan, Russia and China allegedly made payments to health care workers and high state officials in order to win business and boost sales.

The SEC said the payoffs were made “without the knowledge or approval of officers or employees of Pfizer, but the inaccurate books and records of Pfizer subsidiaries were consolidated in the financial reports of Pfizer.”

The US Department of Justice charged the company with conspiracy to violate Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and with violation of the act’s anti-bribery provisions.

Prosecutors agreed to defer prosecution and drop charges for two years if Pfizer „continues to cooperate and make remedial steps“.

The settlement between Pfizer and the prosecution has yet to be confirmed by the US Federal Court.

In Bulgaria, local representatives spent $28,000 taking doctors in charge of procurement on “incentive trips” to Greece, as a reward for the physicians who were the biggest prescribers of Pfizer’s products, Pfizer admitted according to the US Justice Department files.

They also paid $17,000 to send doctors to medical conferences, again in exchange for commitments to prescribe Pfizer drugs.

In Croatia, Pfizer’s subsidiary is accused of bribing Croatian doctors working for state bodies in charge of drug registration, paying the physician in cash and travel expenses, Pfizer admitted.

The indictment states that an employee of Pfizer’s Serbian subsidiary paid for a trip to Chile to a doctor employed in a state hospital, in return for promotion of Pfizer’s products.

Although the officials of Pfizer Serbia fired the employee they were unable to break the agreement that he already made with the doctor because the doctor threatened to disclose the case to the authorities.  

Pfizer also admitted to what was called the “hospital program,” in Russia, where doctors were given a 5 percent kick- back on certain drugs prescribed.

 

 

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