Novartis probes corruption claims in Chinese press

Novartis probes corruption claims in Chinese press

ZURICH - Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis announced Tuesday it has opened an internal inquiry following Chinese press accusations of corruption at its Alcon eye care division.

"Alcon does not tolerate activities that are not in compliance with the laws and regulations in the markets where we operate," Novartis said in a statement.

"When any inappropriate activities are identified, we take swift remedial action," it added.

The Chinese daily 21st Century Business Herald reported that Alcon offered bribes to doctors at more than 200 hospitals in China via an intermediary.

The paper, citing a whistleblower it called "Zorro", said Alcon offered the doctors "research funding" for completing market surveys that never took place.

Novartis said it would take swift corrective measures if any inappropriate behaviour is identified.

China is mounting a sweeping probe into foreign pharmaceutical firms, accusing some of abusing their monopoly positions to boost prices unfairly.

German pharmaceutical giant Bayer confirmed Friday that Chinese authorities had visited one of its offices last month in connection with a potential case of "unfair competition".

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