Open Medicine EU

The US Securities and Exchange Commission reached a settlement with Johnson & Johnson on 11th April over charges of bribing doctors and public hospital adminstrators in Greece, Poland and Romania.

The SEC complaint can be read here and includes the following: “Since at least 1998 and continuing to early 2006, J&J’s subsidiaries, employees and agents paid bribes to public doctors in Greece who selected J&J surgical implants for their patients. Further, J&J’s subsidiaries and agents paid bribes to doctors and public hospital administrators in Poland who awarded tenders to J&J from 2000 to 2006. J&J’s subsidiaries and agents also paid bribes to public doctors in Romania to prescribe J&J pharmaceutical products from 2002 to 2007. Finally, J&J’s subsidiaries and agent paid kickbacks to Iraq in order to obtain contracts under the United Nations Oil for Food Program (“Program”) from 2000 to 2003″.

The company was also charged with using “slush funds, sham civil contracts with doctors, and off-shore companies in the Isle of Man to carry out the bribery“.

According to the SEC, the company have neither admitted nor denied the charges and have consented to a court order to comply with certain undertakings related to the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The company has also agreed to pay $48.6 million dollars to settle the civil proceedings and a further $21.4 million to settle parallel criminal charges.

In its press release on the settlement the SEC acknowledges that the company voluntarily disclosed some of the violations by its employees and conducted a thorough internal investigation to determine the scope of the bribery and other violations, including proactive investigations in more than a dozen countries by both its internal auditors and outside counsel. The company’s statement on the setlement can be found here.

Again according to the SEC, the UK Serious Fraud Office carried out a parallel investigatoin and a resolution is expected shortly. (As of today, I can find no mention of the case on the Office’s website, but presumably that will change.)

Now – my questions. What were the European regulators doing about this? What are they doing now? What has been done to assist patients that may have been given a medicine or medical device that was not the most appropriate for their needs? Have there been any investigations of the doctors and administrators that were the target of the (alleged) bribes?

I would welcome comments from anyone with more information on these points. (As one individual, I lack the resources to launch an investigation in various member states.) END

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