An anonymous whistleblower has accused Swiss drugmaker Novartis (NOVN.S) of paying bribes in Turkey through a consulting firm to secure business advantages worth an estimated $85 million, according to a Feb. 17 email seen by Reuters.
The alleged benefits, which Novartis confirmed it was investigating, included getting medicines added to lists, or formularies, of drugs approved for prescription in government-run hospitals, and avoiding price cuts in other countries by securing government approval to change the names of two drugs.
The anonymous sender’s 5,000-word email to Novartis Chief Executive Joe Jimenez and Srikant Datar, chairman of its audit and compliance committee, said Novartis had paid Alp Aydin Consultancy the equivalent of $290,000 plus costs during 2013 and 2014, before the Turkish Social Security Institution (SSI) launched an investigation, leading the drugmaker to end the association.
Novartis, which said it was committed to the highest standards of ethical business conduct, confirmed Aydin had consulted for it in the past and no longer did so. The pharmaceutical giant also said it was investigating the allegations Aydin had passed on funds to Turkish healthcare officials, and that Novartis Turkey had hired relatives of high-prescribing doctors.
By: Ben Hirschler
Picture: Reuters/Arnd Wiegmann