Drug Companies Face Federal Bribery Inquiries

At least a dozen major drug companies are under investigation by federal prosecutors in a broadening inquiry of bribery allegations.  The companies may have made payments to foreign doctors and health officials.

Such payments are made to encourage doctors to order their products. In the United States, these payments are often legal.  But in most of the rest of the world, doctors are government employees. Even consulting arrangements that would be considered routine in the United States might violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

According to the New York Times:

“Of even greater concern to prosecutors are unusually large payments made to foreign doctors who conduct the growing number of clinical trials that drug and device makers conduct abroad, ... More than 80 percent of the drugs approved for sale in 2008 had trials in foreign countries, and 78 percent of all subjects who participated in clinical trials were enrolled in foreign sites”.

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