Swiss giant Novartis likely bribed 'thousands' in Greece: minister

April 7, 2017

Greece's justice minister on Friday said Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis had likely bribed "thousands" of doctors and civil servants to promote its products, amid an ongoing probe.

"A great number of are implicated... from what I'm beginning to realise from reports, it must be thousands who were directly bribed from Switzerland," Stavros Kontonis told state agency ANA radio.

"National health service doctors and state officials were bribed to promote drugs in an illegal and anti-scientific manner," Kontonis said.

Scores of people have been questioned in a probe ongoing since last year, with anti-corruption prosecutors also visiting Novartis's premises near Athens earlier this year to gather evidence.

The case gained attention following a suicide attempt in Athens on New Year's Day, by a Novartis manager.

That attempt was thwarted by police and according to the judicial source, the manager was one of those questioned over alleged corruption.

Kontonis on Friday said Novartis continued to sell "overpriced" drugs even after the country was hit by economic crisis in 2010 and huge cuts were imposed on state budgets, leaving many Greeks without access to affordable medicine.

In January, Novartis issued a statement saying it was "aware of the media reports about our business practises" in Greece and that it was seeking more information and was cooperating with the authorities.

"Novartis is committed to the highest standards of ethical business conduct and regulatory compliance in all aspects of its work and takes any allegation of misconduct extremely seriously," the company said in the statement.

The Swiss pharmaceutical giant was investigated by US authorities in 2014, accused of paying bribes in order to boost sales of some of its medicines, and was later fined $390 million (366 million euros) by the US Justice Department.

In March, Novartis also paid $25 million (22.4 million euros) to settle claims involving its Chinese subsidiary.

Explore further: Greek justice minister vows speedy corruption inquiry

Related Stories

Greek justice minister vows speedy corruption inquiry

January 3, 2017
Greece's justice minister on Tuesday promised a "swift and thorough" investigation into suspected corruption by civil servants and Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis.

Novartis probes corruption claims in Chinese press

September 18, 2013
Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis announced Tuesday it has opened an internal inquiry following Chinese press accusations of corruption at its Alcon eye care division.

Novartis could face S.Korea sales ban amid corruption allegations: media

August 11, 2016
Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis risks seeing some of its medicines banned in South Korea after company executives were charged with offering illegal discounts to doctors, the Financial Times reported Thursday.

Novartis Korea executives charged for bribing doctors

August 13, 2016
Prosecutors have indicted the former chief executive of the South Korean unit of Novartis and five other former and current managers over allegations they illegally paid doctors 2.6 billion won ($2.3 million) in return for ...

Novartis sees 20 percent income fall due to strong dollar

July 21, 2015
Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis reported $4.1 billion (3.8 billion euros) in income for the first half of the year, down 20 percent, due largely to a stronger dollar.

Novartis to buy back $5 bn in shares

January 25, 2017
Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis announced Wednesday a $5.0 billion share buyback even though competition from generics ate away at sales and earnings last year.

Recommended for you

Discovery opens door for synthetic opioids with less addictive qualities

June 1, 2018
Making opioids from sugar instead of from field grown opium poppies has the potential to solve many of the problems associated with manufacturing strong pain killers.

US doctors prescribing fewer opioid painkillers: report

May 31, 2018
US doctors reduced the number of prescriptions for opioid painkillers last year, continuing a five-year trend, in an effort to reverse a deadly drug abuse epidemic, a report released Thursday said.

Researchers publish study on new therapy to treat opioid use disorder

May 22, 2018
Better delivery of medications to treat opioid use disorder (OUD) is key to addressing the opioid crisis and helping the 2.6 million Americans affected by the disease.

Could nonprofit drug companies cut sky-high prices?

May 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Generic prescription drugs should be cheap, but prices for some have soared in the United States in recent years. Now a group of U.S. hospitals thinks it has a solution: a nonprofit drug maker.

Fewer antibiotics for kids, but more ADHD drugs

May 15, 2018
(HealthDay)—American kids are taking fewer prescription medications these days—but certain drugs are being prescribed more than ever, a new government study finds.

Opioid makers' perks to docs tied to more prescriptions

May 14, 2018
Doctors who accept perks from companies that make opioid painkillers are more likely to prescribe the drugs for their patients, new research suggests.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.