AstraZeneca will pay $5.5m (£4.1m) to resolve a foreign bribery probe in the US.
The payment settles an alleged bribery case at the drugmaker’s Chinese and Russian units going back as far as 2005.
The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) claims Astra staff made payments and gave other benefits to state-employed doctors and other healthcare workers, in return for increased prescriptions.
The SEC said AstraZeneca set up bank accounts in doctors’ names, hired a “collusive travel vendor” who submitted fake or inflated invoices to generate cash to funnel money, and “totally fabricated” conferences to pay out speaker fees despite there being “no meeting date, venue, [nor] subject”.
The regulator said AstraZeneca cooperated with the probe, which factored into the size of the penalty that was assessed against it.
“We are pleased to have resolution of these matters,” the firm said. AstraZeneca is one of the biggest international pharma firms in China, with 45,000 staff.
A recent report from Transparency International found both governments and companies are not doing enough to address corruption, which is sapping $300m from annual healthcare spending.
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