Press release 02nd Jul 2016

Pharmaceutical sector failing to address corruption risk

Dominic Kavakeb 
+ 44 (0)20 3096 7695 
Out of hours:
Weekends; Weekdays (17.30-21.30):
+44 (0)79 6456 0340s

Related Publication

Governments and companies refusing to take corruption seriously

London, 2nd June 2016 – 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 Programme.

As of the beginning of 2016, 1 in 10 corruption investigations by US 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 prioritised at the expense of patients’ health.

Sophie Peresson, Director Transparency International Pharmaceuticals & Healthcare Programme:

“The effects of corruption in the pharmaceutical sector and health sector are stark, where it can literally be a matter of life and death. Where one individual gains from creaming off the top, hundreds more can be deprived from the most basic healthcare, often in the poorest populations of the world.”

“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 recognise 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 (1st Jan 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.

Transparency International Pharmaceuticals & Healthcare Programme 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.