Watchdog report: Pharma may not be addressing corruption risks
The global pharmaceutical sector is wide open to corruption abuse, with both governments and companies failing to properly address corruption risks, according to new research from Transparency International (TI) Pharmaceuticals & Healthcare Program.
As of the beginning of 2016, one in 10 corruption investigations by U.S. authorities involve pharmaceutical companies, significantly higher than the banking sector. Despite the obvious risk, firms are entrusted with a large degree of autonomy, without proper governmental oversight.
The pharmaceutical sector has been largely unchecked for corruption allowing it to develop into one that has allowed profits to be prioritized at the expense of patients’ health.
Sophie Peresson, director, Transparency International Pharmaceuticals & Healthcare Program, said, “The effects of corruption in the pharmaceutical sector and health sector are stark, where it can literally be a matter of life and death. It is shocking that despite scandal after scandal involving pharma companies still policy makers simply are not taking seriously the corrosive effect of corruption. The red flags are being ignored. Governments and pharma companies must recognize their responsibility in fighting corruption and stop turning a blind eye.”
Transparency International’s research found measures to combat corruption inadequate across the following areas:
- Research and development—raw data from research is publicly available in only a handful of countries.
- Marketing—Nearly half of investigated (as of January 1, 2016) health sector corruption cases relate to sales and marketing.
- Manufacturing—Severe lack of enforced regulation to prevent circumnavigation of manufacturing standards through bribery and corruption.
- Distribution—Many countries have little or no safeguards against vital medicines simply disappearing during the distribution process.
The Transparency International Pharmaceuticals & Healthcare Program identifies four key challenges to preventing corruption in the pharmaceutical sector:
- Global institutions, governments and companies not committed to preventing corruption.
- Lack of knowledge and understanding of corruption by policy and decision makers.
- Weak national and international legislation and regulation due to underinvestment and a lack of oversight.
- Unbridled power of companies to influence decisions relating to healthcare.