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Novartis agrees to pay $347 million to settle bribery allegations

Published on 26/06/20 at 11:44am
Photo by Andrew- from Flickr

Novartis and its former eye care unit Alcon have agreed to pay a combined $347 million to resolve allegations that the companies ran bribery schemes in hospitals and clinics in Greece, Vietnam and South Korea.

This payment brings an end to investigations by both the US Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission into alleged criminal and civil violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). The companies entered into a prosecution agreements to resolve the charges.

This investigation into Novartis by the US began in 2016, and Greek prosecutors also sent a report in 2018 to its parliament alleging that the companies had bribed doctors and politicians to fix the prices of its drugs. These charges have long been denied by Novartis and Alcon.

But the agreements detailed a scheme by Alcon to carry out the bribery in state-controlled hospitals throughout Greece, with the expectation that these employees would increase the number prescriptions they wrote for Lucentis, a medication used to treat certain eye conditions. The bribery scheme also saw a conspiracy to violate the FCPA, including an attempt to hide the schemes by causing Novartis to record false books in its records which constituted a second conspiracy to violate the antibribery statue.

Alcon agreed to pay a criminal penalty of $225 million, while its former parent company Novartis agreed to pay more than $112 million which representing the amount of illicit profits.

Conor Kavanagh

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