Teva Pharmaceutical to pay $519 mn to settle US bribery charges

Israel's Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd yesterday agreed to pay $519 million to settle US criminal and civil charges of violating US foreign-bribery law in Ukraine, Mexico and Russia.

The $519-million fine is the largest criminal fine imposed by the US government on a pharmaceutical firm for violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Teva, the world's largest maker of generic drugs, will pay $283 million to the US Department of Justice (DoJ) to settle Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and forfeit $236 million in profits plus interest to resolve a civil case by the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

According to the companies' admissions, Teva executives and Teva Russia employees paid bribes to a high-ranking Russian government official to use his authority to increase sales of Teva's multiple sclerosis drug, Copaxone, in the annual drug purchase auctions held by the Russian Ministry of Health.

Teva also admitted to paying bribes to a senior government official within the Ukrainian Ministry of Health to influence the Ukrainian government's approval of its drug registrations, which were necessary for the company to market and sell its products including Copaxone and insulins in the country.

Teva admitted that its Mexican subsidiary had bribed doctors employed by the Mexican government to prescribe Copaxone since at least 2005.

''Teva and its subsidiaries paid millions of dollars in bribes to government officials in various countries, and intentionally failed to implement a system of internal controls that would prevent bribery,'' said assistant attorney General Caldwell.  ''Companies that compete fairly, ethically and honestly deserve a level playing field, and we will continue to prosecute those who undermine that goal.''

''No matter where corruption occurs, the FBI and our global partners are committed to diligently rooting out the corruption that betrays the public trust and threatens a fair economy for all,'' said FBI assistant director, Stephen Richardson.