The Korean Medical Association vowed legal action against a Korean pharmaceutical company that allegedly gave kickbacks to some 1,300 physicians.
Dong-A Pharmaceutical Co. admitted most of its wrongdoings in its first court hearing Tuesday. The company was indicted on the charge of offering illegal rebates worth some 4.8 billion won ($4.3 million) to 1,400 hospitals and medical clinics. But the firm defended its actions by saying it was following regular practices in the pharmaceutical industry.
KMA said it was considering a lawsuit against Dong-A for fraud while planning to ask the government to punish the pharmaceutical company.
In a bid to protect its members, the KMA has organized a special committee to offer support during legal proceedings and fund legal fees for its members facing possible fines or suspension who received illegal commissions from Dong-A.
“Unlike previous rebate cases, our member doctors are at risk of being suspended as Dong-A Pharmaceutical Co. deceived them into believing that the money was a reward for doctors who participated in the production of educational video for its employees,” said an official from the country’s biggest medical organization on Tuesday.
On Sunday, the prosecution summoned 124 medical industry people involved in the case and indicted 19 doctors and hospital heads without detention. The rest received fines of up to 8 million won.
KMA warned that it was preparing stronger measures against kickbacks and other forms of irregular payments offered by drug firms that criminalize doctors.
The medical group urged the government not to penalize doctors for incidents that took place before dual punishment of illegal rebates was implemented in November 2010. “If the government executes excessive administrative measures for previous practices which took place ahead of adopting the ‘dual punishment system,’ we must demand accountability for the abuse of government power,“ the KMA said.
KMA also called on the government to revise regulations relating to the system that it called ”ambiguous“ in distinguishing between legal and illegal acts.
By Park Han-na