A US investigation was launched into suspected bribery by big pharma spanning three continents

A US probe of pharmaceutical companies suspected of foreign bribery is targeting operations in at least eight countries sprawled across three continents, reported the Main Justice website.

According to the report in late April, the US Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) each sent letters to four major pharmaceutical companies: AstraZeneca PLC; Baxter International Inc.; Eli Lilly & Co.; and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.

The authorities claim that the probe focuses on the action of the companies’ in several countries including Brazil, China, Germany, Greece, Italy, Poland, Russia and Saudi Arabia.

Health care in each of these is largely state-run, and the Justice Department counts employees in such systems as foreign officials under the FCPA, said Main Justice. Furthermore, doctors’ salaries are usually lower in these countries creating more demand for sweeteners and kickbacks.

The probe demonstrates the sweep of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which makes it illegal to pay foreign officials to obtain or keep business.

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