We hear these stories more and more. When is there going to be a public uprising against the unethical and virtually murderous tactics of the drug companies like there was against cigarette manufacturers 15-20 years ago? The motivation is the same for both – profit despite the cost to human health. Also, it’s one thing to hold the drug companies liable, but it DOES take two to tango. Why aren’t the doctors who are in receipt of this dirty money being prosecuted as well? Hand out a few huge fines and prison sentences and we might see the term ‘medical ethics’ become something more than just another oxymoron.
A U.K. judge handed a Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) executive 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.