Pfizer Inc will pay more than $60 million to settle allegations by the US government that the world's largest drugmaker paid bribes to win overseas business, The Wall Street Journal today reported, citing people familiar with the matter.
The settlements, expected to be made public by year-end, comes after the US government said in late 2009 that it would prosecute pharmaceutical companies for trying to bribe foreign officials to obtain business.
This led to a wide-ranging probe and several companies, including Merck & Co, AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb and GlaxoSmithKline, had disclosed last year that they were being investigated for a broad range of possible violations including bribing government-employed doctors, hospital committees to approve drug purchases and paying regulators to win drug approvals in foreign countries.
In April, health care giant Johnson & Johnson agreed to pay $70 million to settle civil and criminal charges of bribing public doctors and administrators in Greece, Poland and Romania and kickbacks to the Iraqi government to illegally obtain business. The charges were brought under the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
New York-based Pfizer had said in a regulatory filing in November 2010 that it had reached agreements in principle with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Department of Justice (DoJ) on improper payments made by its units.
The news agency said that Pfizer continues to negotiate with the regulators, but the terms could change before the final settlement is reached.
Both Pfizer and New Jersey-based Johnson & Johnson provided investigators information about industry practices that could violate the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which bans US companies from bribing foreign officials to get business.
Eli Lilly has earlier said that it was under scrutiny by the US government over its compliance with bribery laws in a number of countries including Poland, while Baxter International had said that it has received a request from the DoJ and SEC on the same issue.