Israeli pharmaceutical giant Teva investigating bribery accusations in Romania

Anonymous tipster alleges company paid state healthcare workers to push its medication to patients

The Jerusalem office of the Israeli drug company Teva Pharmaceuticals (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
The Jerusalem office of the Israeli drug company Teva Pharmaceuticals (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Israeli pharmaceutical giant Teva has reportedly been in the midst of an internal investigation into bribery allegations that the company has been bribing Romanian healthcare workers into prescribing its medication.

Reuters reported Thursday that a spokesperson for Teva confirmed that an investigation was ongoing.

The probe was launched in 2015 after an anonymous tipster sent a series of emails to Teva’s chief executive, accusing the company of courting Romanian doctors — paying them speaking and consulting fees, covering travel expenses — in exchange for their recommending a Teva medication “to as many patients as possible,” according to the email sent to the company by the tipster and which was reviewed by Reuters. The emails were also sent to Teva’s audit committee and compliance staff, according to the report.

The specific medication in question was the multiple sclerosis drug Copaxone, which generated $1.1 billion in sales in Teva’s last quarter, the company said last month in a regulatory filing according to Reuters.

The tipster informed the company that the information was also being sent to the Securities and Exchange Commission and the US Department of Justice.

According to a filing last month cited by Reuters, Teva has been in “advanced discussions” with both the Justice Department and the SEC to settle separate bribery allegations in other foreign countries including Russia, the Ukraine and Mexico.

Teva said in the filing that it had set aside over $520 million for possible penalties, ended “problematic business relationships with third parties,” and overhauled its practices abroad and in some cases pulled out of some countries altogether.

Teva is also one of several generic drugmaker companies under investigation by US authorities for price-fixing.

The probe covers more than a dozen companies and about two dozen drugs, Bloomberg said last month.

AFP contributed to this report.

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