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Hormones to children for money. 67 doctors investigated throughout Italy

White lab coats, including pediatricians and endocrinologists, allegedly took money and gifts from Sandoz to boost prescriptions

MILAN - They allegedly prescribed hormonal drugs, even to children, with dosages above the therapeutic indications to receive money and gifts from the pharmaceutical company Sandoz, which allegedly bribed them through scientific informants. There are 67 doctors from public and private hospitals in Rome and throughout Italy under investigation in the Nas operation "Do ut des" which brought out a system of corruption. Also under investigation are twelve pharmaceutical managers and informants of Sandoz, which deals with the production of hormonal and growth drugs, and the owner of a company that organizes events.

MONEY AND GIFTS – Among the doctors investigated, several paediatricians and endocrinologists who in many cases, following the solicitation of informants, would have increased the prescriptions of medicines with the inclusion of new patients in therapy. To boost sales of some medicines, according to the allegations, the scientific representatives promised sums of money, trips abroad and various objects such as iPads. All this was allegedly justified with false invoices attesting to the donation of money for consultancy or study activities, contributions to congresses or seminars and trips to participate in international meetings. The doctors would have received around 500 thousand euros in gifts and money.

THE ACCUSATIONS – In total there are eighty suspects, the various charges are of criminal association, corruption, instigation to corruption, fraud against the national health service, forgery. In some circumstances the doctors would not hesitate to escalate the claims to the point where senior Sandoz executives would meet with the doctors personally. The 77 searches carried out by the Nas carabinieri of provincial commands throughout Italy will aim to verify whether the prescriptions were appropriate for the pathologies of the treated patients, precisely because it emerged that some children were prescribed dosages above the therapeutic indications.

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