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Novartis among Russian pharma offices raided

The Russian offices of Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis have been searched by police, a company spokeswoman confirmed to the Reuters news agency.

It was one of four pharmaceutical companies in Moscow to be searched, according to the Russian business daily Vedomosti.

A police source had told the newspaper the searches were part of an investigation into an alleged carve-up of the market for supplying the state healthcare system with essential drugs. 

An investigation into the government’s system of subsidised drugs for low income citizens showed the bulk of state supply contracts worth over $2 billion (SFr1.69 billion) went to six distribution firms in 2006-2008.

The Novartis spokeswoman in Moscow said the company was cooperating with police but she declined to comment on the cause of the investigation.

International pharmaceutical firms currently control about 80 per cent of the Russian drugs market, which is seen as a fast-growing market to offset slowing sales in the West.

Novartis plans to invest $500 million in Russia over the next five years and build a plant in St Petersburg to strengthen its position in the market, which is expected to exceed $60 billion by 2020. and agencies

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