Novartis employee pleads guilty to bribery in Poland

On Tuesday, two women pleaded guilty in a Polish court to handing a health fund official a trip worth more than $1,000 in exchange for backing the sale of a certain drug. And one of those women was a Novartis ($NVS) employee, the company said Thursday.

As the Swiss pharma confirmed with Reuters, one of the defendants, now awaiting sentencing, was a worker who had been put on leave--but the action taken by Polish authorities does not involve the company itself.

"Novartis can confirm that an employee was recently interviewed by authorities in Poland in connection with an ongoing enquiry," it told the news service in a statement. "It should be noted that the enquiry relates to the individual and that the company is not a part of this enquiry."

Novartis isn't the only multinational pharma whose name has appeared alongside the word "bribery" this week. Monday, Sanofi ($SNY) said it was investigating potential bribery in the Middle East and Africa, eyeing claims from an anonymous whistleblower about improper payments from 2007 to 2012.

And it isn't even the only drug giant lately to be mentioned in connection with allegations in Poland. GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK)--which broke open the bribery finger-pointing last year with a $489 million scandal in China--faces a criminal investigation there for allegedly bribing doctors to promote respiratory behemoth Seretide.

Speaking of China, Novartis has faced whistleblower claims there, too. Just over a year ago, an employee--codenamed Zorro--from the company's Alcon unit alleged that it used a middleman to pay doctors for working on fabricated post-marketing clinical trials. It then, Zorro said, outsourced the trials to a third-party research, which in turn compensated doctors with "research payments."

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