Five years later, Alexion sets aside $25M to resolve SEC's foreign bribery probe

Soliris
Federal authorities have been looking into Alexion, maker of Soliris, for possible violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. (Alexion)

For five years, federal authorities have been investigating bribery allegations against Alexion Pharmaceuticals in several countries. That process could be finally be nearing an end under a newly disclosed settlement proposal.

Alexion unveiled the proposed $25 million settlement in its recent quarterly securities filing. The payment stems from an investigation that began back in May 2015, when the Securities and Exchange Commission subpoenaed the drugmaker over “grant-making activities” in numerous countries. 

Then, in October 2015, the Department of Justice started up its own investigation into the potential Foreign Corrupt Practices Act violations. Alexion says it’s been cooperating with the probes, and that the DOJ recently closed its investigation. 

The investigations included a close look at Alexion’s operations in Brazil, Colombia, Japan, Russia and Turkey, the filing says. The agencies also sought info related to recalls of rare disease med Soliris, plus securities disclosures. 

Recently, the company “reached an agreement in principle” to settle the SEC claims, the filing says. It's set aside $25 million to wrap them up. Still, Alexion says there “can be no assurance” the deal will be finalized. 

RELATED: Brazilian authorities raid Alexion office in another sales-practices probe 

Back in 2017, authorities in Brazil raided the company's offices in São Paulo in a probe over whether the company helped pay for lawsuits to help patients gain access to Soliris through Brazil's national health system.

A search warrant request seen by Bloomberg said fake diagnoses and hundreds of lawsuits had helped generate hundreds of millions of dollars in sales for the company from the government program.

In its recent SEC filing, Alexion said it's "committed to strengthening its compliance program and is currently enhancing and continuing to implement a comprehensive company-wide transformation plan" to bolster "business processes, structures, controls, training, talent, and systems across Alexion’s global operations."

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