[THE INVESTOR] US drugmaker Johnson & Johnson’s medical devices unit in Korea is under probe for allegedly forcing a retailer to bribe nurses at large university hospitals in exchange for purchasing their disinfectant products, according to YTN, a local broadcaster, on Jan. 5.
The Seoul Western District Prosecutors’ Office has reportedly launched an investigation into J&J Medical Korea on charges of violating medical laws following a complaint filed by the retailer.
In the complaint, the retailer says it was forced to offer rebates to the nurses on several occasions.
The retailer sometimes paid for dinner parties or purchased products like slippers for them. Two nurses were found to have directly received millions of won in lump sums of money. The nurses also spent some 7 million won (US$6,590) using the retailer’s corporate credit card while on business trips to the US from 2012 to 2014.
While medical firms usually offer kickbacks to doctors, YTN reported that J&J bribed nurses to sell their disinfectant products as they control the use of the product at hospitals. The firm has also reportedly launched its own internal probe into the case.
J&J Medical Korea didn’t immediately respond to The Investor’s inquiries.
J&J Medical Korea is one of four units the US drugmaker operates here, alongside J&J Consumer Korea, J&J Vision Care Korea and Janssen Korea.
The Korean government has implemented toughened measures to root out the long-standing bribery issues within the pharmaceuticals industry since 2015. In May 2017, Novartis Korea was slapped with a fine of 55.9 billion won and suspension of insurance coverage of some of its drugs for bribing doctors, including paying for their business trips.
By Park Han-na (email@example.com)