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Nine drug executives to be charged in generics fraud probe

Price inflation scheme defrauded NHS of £130m, alleges Serious Fraud Office

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) is to charge nine pharmaceutical executives for their alleged part in a multi-million pound conspiracy to defraud the NHS.

The move is the result of a four-year SFO investigation into suspected overpricing of generic versions of penicillin-based antibiotics, warfarin, a blood-thinning agent, and ranitidine, the ulcer treatment, between January 1996 and December 2000.

The NHS claims it has been left about £130m out of pocket.

The investigation began in April 2002, with a large-scale dawn raid on both private homes and business premises. At the time, other companies named by the SFO as being under investigation were Generics UK (a unit of Merck KGaA), Kent Pharmaceuticals, Regent-GM Laboratories, Norton Healthcare (a subsidiary of Ivax) and Ranbaxy UK.

Croydon-based generics firm, Goldshield, has confirmed that it has received a letter from the SFO saying its chief executive, Ajit Patel, and his brother, chief financial officer, Kirti Patel, will both be charged on April 7 in relation to their alleged involvement ìin a conspiracy to defraud the secretary of state for health and others in relation to warfarinî.

In a statement, Goldshield said that the two directors ìare continuing in their executive positions with the full support of the board of directors of Goldshield.î

ìGoldshield has given its full co-operation to the SFO investigation and, while it is disappointed by this development, it has prepared its business for the challenges ahead.

ìGoldshield and both directors continue to maintain that they did not act in a way that was unlawful or improper.î

Seven other executives who worked for the six firms under investigation have not yet been named.

Last year, Ranbaxy and Merck reached out-of-court financial settlements with the NHS, without admitting liability.

Related article: http://www.pmlive.com/archive.cfm?&ArticleID=1142&back=-1

 

30th September 2008

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