Ethical Performance
inside intelligence for responsible business


Novartis under bribery spotlight in China again

October 2013

Novartis, the Swiss pharmaceuticals company, is facing a second corruption allegation in China.

Its eye care unit, Alcon, has been accused of bribing doctors in more than 200 hospitals to promote its lens implants by paying them “research fees” for non-existent clinical trials.

In August Novartis had been accused of bribing doctors to increase its drugs sales.
Novartis says of the two accusations, reported in China’s 21st Century Business Herald newspaper: “When any inappropriate activities are identified, we take swift remedial action.”

The company responded to the more recent allegation: “Alcon does not tolerate activities that are not in compliance with the laws and regulations in the markets where we operate.”

The Novartis allegation is one of several levelled against western businesses this year.

Another accusation in the 21st Century Business Herald in August was that the US pharmaceuticals group Eli Lilly paid 30m yuan ($4.9m, £3m, €3.7m) in bribes to persuade Chinese doctors to prescribe its drugs. Eli Lilly is investigating the claim.

In July the Chinese authorities accused the British pharmaceuticals group GlaxoSmithKline of attempting to boost sales of its drugs by channelling up to £320m ($511m, €382m) through travel agencies to bribe doctors and officials. The company has admitted that senior executives appear to have breached the law and says it is now co-operating with the authorities.


Alcon | Asia | Corruption

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