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Novartis admits employees gave kickbacks to doctors in South Korea

Published on 12/08/16 at 09:14am

Novartis has confirmed that six employees in South Korea gave kickbacks to doctors, as the current and former employees face indictment from the Seoul Western District Prosecutors’ Office.

It may go beyond the punishment of half a dozen employees for the Swiss drugmaker, however, as it also confirmed that South Korean prosecutors have asked the government to suspend Novartis’s operations in the country.

A Novartis statement read: “Some associates supported travel to overseas congresses for some healthcare practitioners in a way that did not fully comply with self-regulation standards.” They also highlighted that these practices were “inconsistent with [their] culture and the expectations society has for us.”

The company has faced turmoil in East Asia in the past, when Japanese authorities accused them of false advertising on its blood pressure drug Diovan. This was followed by a $25 million bribery settlement with China earlier this year.

With court proceedings on the matter pending, Novartis looks set not to face a ban on the sale of its products in South Korea just yet.

The statement adds: “We are already implementing a remediation plan in Korea based on the findings from our own investigation.”

In related news, Novartis has said that allegations of bribery in Turkey are groundless, according to Reuters. A statement reads: "Based on thorough internal and external counsel investigations we have concluded that all recent publicly and anonymously reported allegations relating to Novartis Turkey are unsubstantiated. We are not aware of any government authority investigating Novartis. We now consider this matter closed."

Sean Murray

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