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Europe Getting Tough on Pharmaceutical Companies – Is It Education or Bribery With CME

Posted Apr 18 2010 3:57pm

This is a tough subject by all means as the tides are turning here on what perhaps was accepted as donations or grants for increasing education in the clinical worlds but we seem to be developing a new paradigm today.  When you stop and think back though, in the past we didn’t have the alternative areas for learning other than image what the pharmaceutical company provided, but with the internet today, there are alternatives.  

CME credits and where the funding comes from, and how much is under the eye of justice departments all over.  Information and education can now be downloaded to an IPod, IPhone or other mobile device as well as reading it from the internet.  Also, many government agencies now have additional educational resources available too.  This particular case in the UK somewhat caught J and J a bit off guard it appears and with transparency other pharma and device companies are coming under the same scrutiny.  BD 

A U.K. judge handed a Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) a 12-month prison sentence for using education grants to bribe Greek physicians into using J&J products. That decision threatens to stir up a hornets’ nest: If giving doctors “professional education” payments in Europe is bribery, why isn’t doing the same thing in the U.S. also bribery?

Quite possibly, it is. The Department of Justice warned the pharmaceutical industry in November 2009 that it was coming after companies who pay bribes under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. “That will mean investigation and, if warranted, prosecution of corporations, to be sure, but also it will involve investigation and prosecution of senior executives.” Asst. Attorney General Lanny Breuer said at the time.

On the same day, J&J’s worldwide chairman for medical devices & diagnostics, Michael J. Dormer, “retired” from his job, citing the “internal review” and admitting “ultimate responsibility by virtue of my position” for the corruption.

The probe isn’t limited to J&J. Other medical-device makers such as Biomet, Zimmer Holdings (ZMH), Smith & Nephew (SNN) and Medtronic (MDT) all disclosed that federal regulators were investigating their foreign sales .

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