Sanofi exec in Korea arrested in vaccine bribery probe: report

A Sanofi executive in South Korea was among seven people arrested in a bribery probe over vaccine procurement, MLex reports.  

Aside from Sanofi, other pharmaceutical and distribution companies are under investigation in the probe, which could yet expand, according to the publication. Authorities are digging into alleged bid-rigging in the vaccine industry. 

South Korean authorities took a Sanofi Korea executive into custody as they investigate a suspected cartel for public and military immunization programs, the publication reports. The probe could grow to include billions of dollars of purchases, according to the report, potentially involving more than 50 companies. 

The authorities believe the arrested Sanofi exec guaranteed business with certain distributors after receiving financial compensation, according to the report. Sanofi’s Korea subsidiary declined to comment to MLex about the ongoing investigation.

The report follows another by the Korea Biomedical Review in November that prosecutors had raided more than 10 pharma companies they suspected of forming a cartel.  

RELATED: Novartis to pay $50M, lose some drug coverage in Korean bribery probe 

It’s not the first time pharma bribery allegations have cropped up in Korea. Novartis in 2017 had to pay a $50 million fine and temporarily lost coverage for certain drugs after authorities raided offices and arrested execs in a bribery investigation. Korean officials said Novartis employees had paid millions in unlawful kickbacks to doctors to boost sales.