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Greece’s authorities investigate Whistleblowers’ claims big pharma bribed public officials & doctors

Greece’s Justice Minister Stavors Kontonis sent to Supreme Court prosecutor media reports according to which a big pharma company bribed doctors and public officials in order to boost prescriptions and the companies sales. The prosecutor should investigate media reports that two executives of Novartis in Greece had told US authorities that “the company used unfair methods to improve the company’s position in the Greek market for many years.”

The case was revealed by news website iefimerida.gr on December 12th 2016. According to the website, the two executives had given the relevant testimony to the US Securities and Exchange Commission investigating the pharma company last August.

“The two former employees – their identities are available to iefimerida.gr – are currently in the USA in order to testify at the Commission.

The two executives are Greek citizens who worked at Novartis since 2008, the one chief of communication and corporate responsibility, the other as sales manager.

Due to their positions, the two former employees had access to knowledge and proof about bribes of public officials and doctors by the company in order to get decisions in favor of the company and prescribe the company’s drugs.

The two “whistleblowers” have submitted hundreds of documents showing money payments to private doctors, but mainly to doctors working in the public sector or in the health insurance system. Also they submitted names of companies through which the company laundered money.

The US Justice is called to investigate illegal payments to officials, failure of the company’s internal controls to detect illegal payments, payments to IKA [social security fund for private sector employees] doctors and hospitals in Greece, as well as payments to mass media so that they criticize politicians whose decisions were not in favor of the company.

The company has been investigated for similar practices in countries like USA, Turkey, China and South Korea, some of its executives have been charged.” (iefimerida.gr)

According to iefimerida.gr, Novartis commented on the report in a short notice of 16 words.

“We have taken note of the publication and we are in search of further evidence. We do not comment on unsubstantiated information.”

Last October Novartis CEO Joe Jimenez had told media that Novartis can’t guarantee to eradicate wrong-doing entirely.

«It’s a combination for us of hiring the right people, training them when they get here, and thirdly, you need the ability to identify it and wipe it out as soon as you see it,» Jimenez said.

The company has 35,000 sales and marketing representatives around the world.

PS I remember to see several of them standing line in the corridors of IKA when I’d go there for my mom’s prescription medicine. The rate was usual 1-2 patients: 4-5 Novartis’ representatives – for a popular drug for a specific illness- awaiting outside the doctor’s door. The rude representatives, young men and women in black and white suits,  would normally push aside the patients who had an appointment and enter the office claiming they had other clients waiting.

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9 comments

  1. This is news?
    If you allowed links, I could post dozens of them cataloguing a litany of dirty tricks regularly employed by Big Pharma.
    Do you know why there are worldwide indoor smoking bans?
    Because the big three Pharmaceutical companies went into ‘partnership’ with the WHO (for that read ‘provided massive funding’) to set up the FCTC (Framework Convention on Tobacco Control) treaty which nations were then required to sign up to (the implication being that if they didn’t sign, then the IMF, who work hand-in-glove with the WHO, might be less than helpful if their services were required). On the back of the international smoking bans, Big Pharma then built up a multi-billion dollar industry supplying grossly overpriced NRT (Nicotine Replacement Therapy) patches and gums.
    Neat, eh?
    They also funded all the anti-smoking groups so they could produce reams of junk ‘science’ about the ‘dangers of second-hand smoke’. That the two most comprehensive studies ever done both found no statistically significant risk from SHS was totally ignored.
    And that example is just one of many ways in which the pharmaceutical industry generates business. They don’t care about the small businesses they destroy, or the social divides they create. It’s just collateral damage. They are completely amoral.

    • everybody knows how big pharma offers travels, congresses, paid vacation, cash etc

    • Ermm, you don’t seem to realise how illogical your comment is. “If you allowed links…I could post dozens of them”
      ~
      Now we know why KTG doesn’t allow links! And by the way, when I occasionally post one, KTG does allow it. It was Sokrates who stated “everything in moderation”. You Greeks seem to be really slow learners: 2,500 years per lesson is not fast.

  2. The last time I included a link in a comment, it got binned, so I don’t even bother to try now. And had I been able to, I would only have posted one anyway; a link to an interview with Dr Peter Rost, former Vice President of Pfizer, in which he details some of the ways the pharmaceutical industry controls ‘research’ results. (It’s on YouTube if you care to search.)
    My comment about being able to post dozens of links, while true, was just by way of saying how much evidence of Big Pharma skulduggery is out there. You obviously take things too literally. Try using your imagination sometimes.
    Oh, and I’m not Greek, just a long term resident here.

    • OK, so your excuse for not showing moderation is that you are not Greek. Kala. And yes, I take literally words that are written down. If you don’t mean them, please don’t bother posting them. I do not intend to waste my time “imagining” what someone really means! Incidentally, I have many times been the victim of people with your mentality who seem to think that I do not mean what I write, and start telling me what I really mean. I hope you realise how dumb this is.

  3. Portuguese CEO of “Octopharma” was arrested today while in germany under portuguese justice order for similar reason. Investigation goes on too for blood business and corruption in National Emergency Health Care Institute (INEM) president.