Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Legacy Schering-Plough Paid "Kickbacks" In Vietnam -- For PegIntron® 'Scrips?

Online versions of various newspapers in Sàigòn are reporting that the Vietnamese Prime Minister has ordered a formal penalty-assessment inquiry today, against the local Schering-Plough subsidiary, and several hepatologists.

The papers report that "commissions" of between 10 percent and 30 percent of the per treatment selling-price of PegIntron®, in country, were offered -- and paid -- to various Vietnamese liver doctors.

This one could be immensely toxic to New Merck's business reputation in Southeast Asia -- and well beyond the actual size of the "commissions" offered (and apparently, paid) in Vietnam. Do go read the whole article:

. . . .Leaders of the city’s Medical University and its hospital held a press conference. . . to discuss the controversy as related to staff here. . . .

Co-deputy Director of the hospital Dr. Nguyen Hoang Bac said he had ordered the facility’s Pharmaceutical Faculty to investigate all drug prescriptions written recently, especially those for Schering-Plough’s Pegintron 50 mcg and Pegintron 80 mcg used to treat liver disease.

It would then be decided if doctors had prescribed the medicines inappropriately to receive commissions.

Dr. Le Quan Nghiem, deputy head of the Medical University-turned-head of the Pharmaceutical Faculty, said the school has also suspended Dr. Nguyen Duc Tuan after rumors surfaced that he was working as a marketing director for Schering-Plough.

The US pharmaceutical company merged with US-based Merck. . . in 2009 and Ton That Luong Nguyen was appointed chief representative in Vietnam.

Mr. Nguyen reportedly secured high commissions for doctors of 10-30 percent of the cost of the drugs if they prescribed Pegintron 50 mcg and Pegintron 80 mcg for patients. . . .

Deeply disconcerting -- and when the inevitable "other shoe" drops, I'll have it -- right here. Once again, we've seen that Mr. Hassan sold some sows' ears, as silk purses. And Mr. Clark bought them -- paying silk-purse prices.

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