The Tokyo prosecutor’s office raided the offices of Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis on Wednesday as it continued to probe the “exaggerated marketing” allegations over the promotion of Diovan, its best-selling blood pressure medicine. The drugmaker confirmed through a released statement that there was an on-site investigation but that it will “cooperate fully with the Prosecutor’s investigation.”
Last month, the Health Ministry filed a criminal complaint against Novartis due to the alleged manipulation of data in a clinical trial for Diovan, which they have then used to market the drug. While officials from Novartis had previously denied knowing that the data was flawed and altered, they also admitted that there was indeed a conflict of interest when they found out one of their employees was involved in the clinical studies. They said they have already conducted corrective measures, including overhauling the management of their Tokyo offices and setting up a compliance advisory panel to avoid this kind of problems in the future. But they said on Thursday that they cannot comment further on the issue because the investigation is still ongoing. Sources say that during the raid, the prosecutors are collecting relevant documents that they will use in the case against Novartis.
Japanese law states that those found guilty of exaggerated advertising of drugs can receive up to two years in prison or a fine of up to 2 million yen, or both. The Japanese market for Diovan accounted for at least a quarter of its global sales before this scandal, having annual sales of 100 billion yen since 2005. Since the allegations started cropping up October last year, several hospitals have stopped offering Diovan and their sales in 2013 dropped 16% from the previous year.
[ via Reuters ]