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Chieti: money and drugs, another 16 suspects emerge in the case of the neonatologist Sabatino

Giuseppe Sabatino, 64, under arrest at home for sexual harassment and corruption in collaboration with medical informants from Mellin and Dicofarm. The 4 informants already arrested are joined by another 7. The investigation into the 16 new suspects aims to establish who has complied with the law, and who has violated it. According to the investigating magistrate, the corruption system is "a company policy" which would take place through informers. The system that emerged could involve the entire NHS.

The investigation into the arrested chief physician is expanding: from the interceptions of the Nas the names of famous chief physicians from Abruzzo

ASK. The accusation hypothesis is bribes and sponsors in exchange for prescriptions for drugs such as powdered milk or vitamins: there are sixteen new suspects. One of the two strands of the investigation started by the head of Neonatology of the Chieti polyclinic is spreading like wildfire, Joseph Sabatino, 64 years old, under house arrest for sexual harassment of the mothers of the newborns and corruption in collaboration with medical informants of the Mellin and of Dicofarm. Naturally, these are presumed charges, just as none of the new prosecutors registered are guilty of crimes.

Indeed, it is a necessary act after their names were intercepted by the Nas carabinieri who monitored the phones of the arrested medical informants Marco D'Errico, from Lecce, Luigi Leccese, of Pescara, Gabriel Bellia, of the Milanese e Antonio De Panfilis, also from Pescara. Nine doctors thus emerge among the new suspects, some well known in Abruzzo. Here is the list: Paolo Calafiore (Giulianova), Mario Di Pietro (primary doctor in Atri), Gaetano Silvestre (head of respiratory physiotherapy at Spirito Santo in Pescara), Giuseppina Brandimarte (Pescara), Valerio Flacco (director of pediatrics in Lanciano) and , from outside the region, Gian Giuseppe Russo (pediatrician from Taranto), Ruggero Francavilla and Addolarata Zaccaro (pediatricians from Bari), Giuseppe La Padula (Melfi). To these are added the medical informants Bellia, Alessandra Russi, Adele Miani, Antonio Pagliara, Roberto Castelli, Sabino Rinella and De Panfilis.

But their positions must be examined, case by case, both for sponsorship of conferences and for donations to non-profit organizations, in both cases by representatives of the pharmaceutical companies Dicofarm and Mellin. However, if the investigation were to expand to other drug companies, there are those who predict an earthquake in the medical world. «The corruption phenomenon that emerged from the investigations involves the national health system on a large scale, being relationships of an illicit nature emerged in multiple hospitals operating in various Italian regions ", writes the investigating judge, Paolo Di Geronimo, in Sabatino's arrest warrant. Before this conclusion, the judge also states: "The use of the promise and giving of sums or other benefits with corrupt purposes is a tool rooted in the activity carried out by the representatives of pharmaceutical companies", which the investigating judge comes to define as "a policy of 'enterprise' which would take place "through the donation of sums of money for non-profit organizations, advantages of a patrimonial nature, travel and tourist stays, and contributions for the organization of conferences that are only apparently compliant with sector legislation". However, this is not always a crime: «Article 124 of Legislative Decree 219/2006 regulates, in a timely manner, the contribution paid by pharmaceutical companies on the occasion of conferences, prescribing in the first place that the contribution is communicated to Aifa (the Italian agency of the drug) at least 60 days before the event".

The investigation into the 16 new suspects aims to establish who has complied with the law, and who has violated it. Each of the doctors and chief physicians involved can come out on top of the investigation into bribes, sponsors and trips to prescribe drugs.

July 20, 2014 – The Center | ASK


 Legislative Decree 219/06

Article 123.
Concession or promise of prizes or advantages, pecuniary or in kind

1. In the context of the information and presentation of medicinal products carried out with doctors or pharmacists, it is forbidden to grant, offer or promise prizes, pecuniary or in-kind advantages, unless they are of negligible value and are in any case connected to the activity carried out by the doctor and the pharmacist.

2. Information material for scientific or work consultation, not specifically pertaining to the medicinal product, may be transferred free of charge only to public health facilities.

3. Doctors and pharmacists cannot solicit or accept any incentive prohibited under paragraph 1.

Article 124.
Conventions or congresses and other meetings concerning medicines

1. Every pharmaceutical company in possession of the authorizations provided for in title III or in title IV, or which, on the basis of a specific agreement with the marketing authorization holder, carries out the effective marketing of medicinal products, which it organizes or contributes to realizing, through funding or the provision of other benefits, even indirect ones, in Italy or abroad, a congress, convention or meeting on issues related to the use of medicines produced or marketed by the same company, must send to the competent AIFA office, at least sixty days before the start date of the congress or meeting, a communication, with authenticated signature, containing the following elements:

to) own name or company name, tax code and registered office;

b) venue and date of the event;

c) recipients of the initiative;

d) object of the topic dealt with, existing correlation between this and the medicines owned by the company, program and scientific rationale for the event;

And) professional and scientific qualification of the speakers;

f) analytical cost estimate; when the company limits itself to providing a contribution to the organizers, the amount and methods of the same must be indicated, as well as any rights or powers granted by the organizers as consideration.

2. When several pharmaceutical companies contribute to the realization of the same congress, convention or meeting, the communications referred to in paragraph 1 must be sent jointly, through the organisers, with a summary table of the participating companies. Communications sent in breach of the provisions of this paragraph are ineffective.

3. The events referred to in paragraphs 1 and 2 must comply with criteria of a strictly technical nature and be oriented towards the development of knowledge in the sectors of chemistry, pharmaceutical technology, biochemistry, physiology, pathology and clinics and must be carried out in compliance with the provisions of this decree and the criteria and guidelines established by AIFA pursuant to paragraph 2 of article 119. The participation of pharmaceutical companies in trade union conventions or meetings is prohibited.

4. In the context of the events referred to in paragraphs 1 and 2, any charges for travel or hospitality expenses must be limited to qualified sector operators and cannot be extended to any accompanying persons. Furthermore, hospitality cannot exceed the period of time between the twelve hours preceding the start of the congress and the twelve hours following the conclusion of the same, nor present characteristics such as to prevail over the technical-scientific purposes of the event. General practitioners and paediatricians of free choice are allowed to participate in conferences and congresses with ECM accreditation of an educational nature on pertinent topics, subject to notification to the competent health facility. A register with data relating to participation in the events in question is deposited at this facility; such data must be accessible to the Regions and AIFA.

5. The pharmaceutical company can carry out or contribute to carrying out the congress, convention or meeting if, within forty-five days of the communication referred to in paragraph 1, AIFA communicates its favorable opinion, having consulted the Region where the event. The pharmaceutical company or, in the case governed by paragraph 2, the organizers of the event, must send AIFA the analytical balance of the expenses.

6. For exhibitions that take place abroad and for those which involve, for the pharmaceutical company, an expense exceeding 25,822.85 euros, the company itself must obtain express authorization from AIFA, which adopts its decisions within forty-five days from the communication referred to in paragraph 1, accompanied by the certification of payment of the tariff referred to in article 158, paragraph 8, letter b). The provisions of the second period of paragraph 5 apply to the aforementioned events.

7. In any case, within the congress or convention, or side by side with it, no form of distribution or display of samples of medicinal products or illustrative material of medicinal products may be carried out, with the exception of the summary of product characteristics, proceedings of congresses and scientific papers, provided that they are integral and duly filed with AIFA pursuant to article 120, paragraph 1. Only for international congresses, the dissemination, in the original languages, of information material compliant with the AIC of the medicinal product is permitted issued in other countries, provided that doctors from the latter are present at the event.

8. The provisions of this article apply to congresses, conventions and meetings of pharmacists on topics related to medicinal products.

9. The pharmaceutical companies referred to in paragraph 1 which organize or contribute to the realization through financing, even indirectly, in Italy or abroad, of a congress, convention or meeting on subjects which do not pertain to medicines produced or marketed by them are not subject to the provisions of this article, without prejudice to the prohibition for them to carry out any advertising of their medicines to health professionals on the occasion of the events.

10. If the events referred to in this article are carried out in violation of the provisions of this decree and of the criteria and directives established by AIFA, the Agency itself may prohibit the holding of the event.





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Fedaiisf Federazione delle Associazioni Italiane degli Informatori Scientifici del Farmaco e del Parafarmaco