Chinagate Scandal Now Implicating Alcon

Chinagate Scandal Now Implicating Alcon

September 18th, 2013 // 3:27 pm @

Novartis is again getting caught up in a huge bribery scandal in China that has ensnared several drug makers. In July, a sales rep accused Alcon of giving bribes to some physicians in hospitals to increase sales of cancer medications. Now, we are seeing a whistle blower by the anonymous name of Zorro who is telling the Chinese press that the Alcon eye unit there was using a middle man to pay off doctors for post marketing trials that did not happen.

‘Zorro’ has accused Alcon of shifting money that was supposed to be used for patient experience surveys for lens implants, for bribing doctors at over 200 medical facilities. This is coming from the same newspaper, 21st Century Business Herald, that had reports of possible bribes by several pharmaceutical companies.

China Scandal Embroils Alcon, GSK, Sanofi, Astrazeneca, Eli Lilly, UCB, Lundbeck and Nordisk

This scandal first blew up this past summer when authorities in China started to investigate GSK for allegedly bribing physicians and various government officials to increase sales of some of its drugs. Some employees were eventually arrested and the probe is also catching up Sanofi, Astrazeneca, Eli Lilly, UCB, Lundbeck and Nordisk.

This scandal is being viewed in a number of ways. The government in China is thought to be using these probes as a way to bolster the domestic drug industry there, or to possibly get lower prices in China on some drugs.

Alcon is denying that it did anything wrong and is looking into the accusations. However, an internal review of some research payments in China in 2012 determined that rules and regulations were properly followed. Alcon maintains that this program is being run by a highly experienced and reputable third party company.

It should be noted that the head of Novartis, David Epstein, informed employees recently that the company has no tolerance for bribery, noting that it is illegal and unethical. He stated in a memo that bribery can be in many forms, and it is not always simple to recognize. To ensure that all employees understand what bribery really is, the company distributed a global anti-bribery policy.

This happened only three weeks after the SEC charged Pfizer for a violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, after it determined that several subsidiaries had given bribes to doctors and various other professionals in the health care industry. The FCPA outlaws US firms from bribing government officials in foreign countries.

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