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Israeli pharma company fined US$519 million

WASHINGTON, DC/JERUSALEM: December 29, 2016. The U.S. government has fined Israel-based Teva Pharmaceutical Industries (Teva), the world's largest producer of generic pharma products, and its Russian subsidiary a total of US$519 million for bribing government officials in Russia, the Ukraine and Mexico.

Teva is to pay US$283 million to the U.S. Department of Justice to settle one count of conspiracy to violate the anti-bribery provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and one count of failing to implement adequate internal controls.

In addition, Teva and its Russia subsidiary will pay the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) US$236 million in response to a cease and desist order against them.

Erez Vigodman"Teva and its subsidiaries paid millions of dollars in bribes to government officials in various countries, and intentionally failed to implement a system of internal controls that would prevent bribery," said Justice Department assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell.

Both companies admitted their employees bribed a high-ranking Russian government official in a bid to influence sales of Teva's multiple sclerosis drug Copaxone at a time when the country's Ministry of Health was trying to cut down on pharma imports.

Caldwell said that between 2010 and 2012 Teva earned over US$200 million in profits on Copaxone sales to the Russian government while the corrupt official earned US$65 million.

Teva has also admitted bribing a senior official at Ukraine's Ministry of Health to influence the government's approval of Copaxone and bribing doctors employed by the Mexican government to prescribe the drug.

According to a Teva statement the bribery settlement resolves past behavior by employees who have since left the company – including its Russian subsidiary "where the entire leadership team was replaced in 2013".

Teva president and CEO Erez Vigodman (right) commented: "While the conduct that resulted in this investigation ended several years ago, it is both regrettable and unacceptable, and we are pleased to finally put this matter behind us. The Teva of today is a fundamentally different company," he added.

Teva Q3 2016 revenue was US$5.6 billion, a rise of 15 percent year-on-year, while gross profit was US$2.8 billion and the gross profit margin was 50.4 percent.

Revenue for the first nine months of 2016 was US$15.4 billion, gross profit was US$8.46 billion, net income was US$1.28 billion, and "legal settlements and loss contingencies" rose from US$531 million to US$674 million year-on-year.

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