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US Probes Corruption in Big Pharmaceuticals
Financial Times | August 13, 2010 | 07:27 AM EDT

The US Department of Justice is scrutinizing payments by leading pharmaceuticals companies for hospitality, consultants, licensing agreements and charitable donations in markets around the world as part of a wide-ranging corruption probe.

GlaxoSmithKline , Pfizer, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Eli Lilly, among others, have disclosed being contacted by the DoJ and Securities and Exchange Commission in connection with the investigation. Merck, the US drugs group, announced last week that it had also been contacted and was co-operating with investigators.

An industry attorney familiar with the probe said that the DoJ was looking at whether pharma companies had ignored a “systematic risk” inherent in the global drugs business and ignored obligations under local and US anti-bribery law.

The highly regulated nature of the business, combined with the fact that healthcare officials in many non-US markets were government funded, made the industry a natural target for such a probe, the person added.

The investigation is at a relatively early stage but is considered a priority for the DoJ.

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