The healthcare industry is often seen as being in the pocket of pharmaceutical giants. But some say this closeness is beneficial, and excessive transparency could be damaging
To put it politely, gifts, corruption and secrecy are historically a strong component of the global pharmaceutical industry. A look at the 20 largest legal settlements in the pharmaceutical field in the years from 1991 to 2013 demonstrates widespread misconduct in the field.
Even the companies considered most stalwart in their ethical practices have had breaches: Novo Nordisk, for example, which tops most sustainability and ethical practices lists, paid $18m in fines in 2008 for alleged illegal kickbacks to the Iraqi government through the oil-for-food programme. These types of fines, enormous and ongoing fines that have been the result of legal action, haven’t deterred bad actors.
In October 2014, French drug maker Sanofi disclosed that it was investigating improper payments to healthcare professionals in East Africa and the Middle East. That’s the latest in a very long string of bribery accusations dogging Big Pharma.
Sanofi received kudos for notifying US regulators and hiring independent legal counsel to investigate the possible abuses. And, on the bright side, Sanofi’s actions may be part of a new era of transparency coming to the industry, prompted by the pressure of global legislation, discontent among...