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Monday, 7th November

AstraZeneca PLC said Monday in a securities filing that it was criminally indicted in Serbia for alleged bribery.

The indictment, which according to the filing was served in August, accuses local AstraZeneca employees of having “made allegedly improper payments to physicians” at the Institute of Oncology and Radiology of Serbia.

In the filing, the company said it has filed a number of procedural motions to dismiss the charges.

“We intend to vigorously defend the matter and have filed a number of pending preliminary procedural objections that ask the Serbian criminal court to dismiss the indictment,” Tony Jewell, an AstraZeneca spokesman, said in an email. “This case is still in preliminary stages, so we are not in a position, at this time to comment further or to predict the outcome.”

The disclosure was made when AstraZeneca reported third-quarter earnings on Oct. 27; the Financial Times reported it (sub req) at the time. Monday’s filing, the 6-K required of foreign issuers, was a bundle of press releases made by the company during October.

Last year, the director of the Institute—as well as several others, including a business unit manager in AstraZeneca’s Belgrade office—were arrested in an alleged bribery scheme that involved favoring some pharmaceutical companies’ products when purchasing cancer-treatment medicine.

The pharmaceutical industry is already staring at an industry-wide probe in the U.S. into alleged foreign bribery. AstraZeneca was one of several companies that disclosed it was being investigated for possible violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which bars companies and individuals from bribing foreign officials to get or keep business.

Johnson & Johnson settled in April, agreeing to pay $70 million to U.S. authorities. In its latest annual report, AstraZeneca said it’s cooperating with U.S. authorities on the probe, and it couldn’t predict the scope, duration or outcome of the investigation.

WSJ Blog: http://blogs.wsj.com/corruption-currents/2011/11/07/astrazeneca-indicted-in-serbia-for-alleged-bribery/?

And this comment from an AstraZeneca employee: "Funny that we have these issues, the company tries so hard 'to look upstanding' and yet once again those in power fail us once again. These "leaders" once again have no ethics and cut corners for profit. no wonder why we are so scrutinized and looked at so negatively by the public, eventually this job just needs to go away because the industry has destroyed itself, to think we used to actually sell products, nowadays we just repeat bullshit story lines"

Ed - Maybe if they stopped torturing animals for profit and actually did real science and found real cures we'd all be in a better position?


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