Roche managers detained in Turkish probe

Police arrested Roche employees at the company's local headquarters in Istanbul Keystone

Managers of the Turkish pharmaceuticals division of Swiss company Roche have been taken into police custody as part of a probe into drug pricing.

This content was published on February 16, 2005

Roche has confirmed the arrests, which are part of an investigation into allegations of corruption within the national health system.

Police from Istanbul’s anti-organised crime bureau raided Roche’s offices in the city on Monday, detaining up to 17 people, according to Turkish media.

Some have since been released, but company spokesman Daniel Piller confirmed to Reuters that three managers, including the unit’s general manager and administrator, were still in custody on Wednesday.

The arrests are said to be part of a wider probe into corruption allegations at the state-run Social Security Administration (SSK). The SSK manages Turkey’s national health system, including public hospitals.

Cancer drug

The investigation was launched six months ago after a former Roche employee told police that the company had set different prices for different customers of a cancer drug – Neorecormon.

Roche is alleged to have charged the SSK well over the market price, to the tune of at least TL12 trillion (SFr10.6 million).

SSK officials are also accused of corruption relating to the drug purchasing tender process.

Roche has denied any wrongdoing and said that any differences in prices were due to tender laws introduced in 2003.

Piller commented there was nothing to suggest that Roche managers were involved in illegal practices, adding that the company’s local office had been cooperating with investigators after the claims over the cancer drug’s pricing.

"Our primary goal is for a clarification of the issue," he said.

Roche’s Turkish pharmaceutical division had sales of around SFr300 million last year.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

Roche’s Turkish pharmaceutical division employs 700 people.
It generated SFr300 million in sales in 2004.
Worldwide, Roche has 65,000 employees and sells its products in over 150 countries.
The company reported sales of SFr29.5 billion last year, making nearly SFr7 billion in profits.

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