Published : 2013-03-10 21:02
Updated : 2013-03-10 21:02
A joint government investigation team looking into illegal kickbacks said Sunday that it booked more than 100 doctors on charges of receiving bribes from Donga Pharmaceutical Co., the largest pharmaceutical firm in the nation.
The bribery case involving an unprecedented number of doctors prosecuted is based on a fledgling law that bans both giving and receiving kickbacks in the medical and drug fields. Doctors and drug makers have long been alleged to have close and secretive ties.
The joint team consisting of seven government organizations, including the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office, Ministry of Health and Welfare, and National Police Agency, said it indicted 119 doctors, one president of a hospital, and four administrative workers at hospitals.
According to the investigation team, 18 doctors and one administrative staff were indicted without detention and the rest were fined between 1.5 million and 7 million won.
The doctors and staff received kickbacks worth millions or billions of won after providing services such as online lectures or participating in surveys to cover up for the received money.
“The pharmaceutical firm gave financial benefits in the name of lecture fees,” an official from the investigation team said.
In 2010, the law banning the illegal practice, the so-called “dual punishment system,” was implemented.
Having indicted 12 officials from the largest pharmaceutical firm and an intermediary agency’s president in January, the probe found that illegal money of up to 4.8 billion won was handed over to 1,400 hospitals and clinics from early 2009 to last September.
With the law expected to affect a massive number of doctors, the Korean Medical Association said last January that the doctors involved in what the investigation team deemed an illegal practice were unaware of the illegality since the lectures had been taking place for years for the drug representatives.
The association is expected to announce measures in response to the case on Monday.