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14 February 2018

Two former Greek prime ministers and an EU commissioner are among those being investigated in a multi-million euro pharmaceutical bribery scandal.

Greek prosecutors have named 10 officials that they believe are implicated in the scandal involving Swiss medical giant Novartis. They include two former prime ministers, Antonis Samaras and Panagiotis Pikrammenos, and the current EU migration commissioner, Dimitris Avramopoulos. All the officials denied any wrongdoing.

Novartis is being investigated in Greece over allegations that it bribed officials and doctors, from 2006 to 2015, to fix drug prices and boost its sales to public hospitals. Greek prosecutors published a report alleging that Novartis officials paid tens of millions of euros in bribes to doctors and politicians.

Deputy Justice Minister Dimitris Papangelopoulos called the situation "the biggest scandal since the establishment of the Greek state".

This is just the latest episode where big pharmaceutical companies have been accused of using large-scale bribery to gain a larger share of the market. The likes of AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline have faced similar accusations and been fined heavily for bribery.

While the Greek population may be shocked by the alleged involvement of senior political figures, those in business – especially in the pharmaceutical industry – would do well to realise the dangers of failing to have strong anti-bribery measures in place. They can’t say they haven’t been warned.

Read our article: BITTER PILL

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