The US Department of Justice has shared that Novartis Hellas S.A.C.I. (Novartis Greece), a subsidiary of the Switzerland-based global pharmaceutical company Novartis AG, and Alcon Pte Ltd, a former subsidiary of Novartis AG and current subsidiary of the multinational eye care company Alcon Inc., will pay a combined total of more than $233 million in penalties for violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).
The companies engaged in multiple malpractices over the past decade. In 2009-10, Novartis Greece paid healthcare providers for an epidemiological study intended to increase the sales of some Novartis-branded medicines. Later, during 2012-15, the company bribed employees of government healthcare facilities in Greece to increase the sale of Novartis-branded pharmaceuticals. Novartis Greece employees also traveled to the US to provide such improper benefits to government-employed Greek healthcare providers. During 2011-14, Alcon Pte Ltd was also involved in a scheme to bribe government healthcare workers in Vietnam to increase the sales of its intraocular lenses.
The government’s decision on this issue comes because of the companies’ failure to timely disclose their misconduct, the gravity of the violations and the lack of a compliance and ethics program when the misconduct transpired. At the same time, the government has given credit for the companies’ cooperation in the investigation. The companies have now taken stringent action against the employees involved in the misconduct, while also improving their anti-corruption measures and compliance policies.