In a statement, the U.S. Department of Justice stated, Novartis AG along with Novartis Hellas, a Greece-based unit of the Swiss drugmaker, has entered a deferred prosecution agreement wherein it has agreed to pay $225 million as a criminal fine.
The criminal fine is to resolve a U.S. criminal and civil charges alleging that the two companies bribed hospitals, clinics, and doctors, in Greece and Vietnam to prescribe their drugs and use their surgical products.
Novartis will also pay $112.8 million to settle related civil charges by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
Alcon Pte, now part of Alcon AG, has entered into a deferred prosecution agreement on its own and has agreed to pay an $8.9 million criminal fine.
Novartis spun off Alcon in April 2019.
The settlements resolve charges that both units violated a U.S. anti-bribery law – the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).
According to the prosecution, from 2012 to 2015 Novartis Hellas conspired to bribe employees of state-owned hospitals and clinics in Greece to buy more Novartis-branded drugs including Lucentis, which treats a form of age-related vision loss. Prosecutors was accused the Alcon unit of having used a third-party distributor to quietly funnel payments to employees of state-owned hospitals and clinics in Vietnam to boost sales of intraocular lenses, used to treat cataracts, from 2011 to 2014.
Authorities also accused both units of falsifying books and records to conceal the bribes.
In a statement, Shannon Thyme Klinger, Novartis’ group general counsel said, the drugmaker was pleased to have resolved all its outstanding FCPA investigations.
Novartis also said the settlements contain no allegations regarding any bribery of Greek politicians, and was consistent with its own internal findings.
Alcon’s spokesman said the company was pleased to settle.
The Justice Department said both fines reflect reductions because of cooperation by Novartis and Alcon.