News Feature | April 4, 2014

Novartis Replacing Executives In Japanese Unit

By Marcus Johnson

The Swiss based pharmaceutical company Novartis has announced that it will be replacing lead executives from its Japanese unit. The company's Japanese unit has faced allegations from the Japanese government that the company falsified research data and hid the potentially dangerous side effects of its leukemia drug from the medical community and state regulators.

Novartis has apologized for its involvement in the scandal, and the company also announced that it will be halting funding for clinical trials based in Japan. Some have speculated that other staff members in the Japanese unit of Novartis shredded documents, which led to more firings.

David Epstein, the head of the company's pharmaceuticals division, spoke on the allegations of company employees destroying documents. “I'd like to once again apologize for Novartis' involvement in this issue,” said Epstein. “If some of them have destroyed documents, it's a pure violation of our code of conduct and that employee has to leave as soon as we discover that.”

This isn't the only scandal that the company has had to deal with in recent months. Japanese officials also raided the company's Tokyo office for documents and information regarding allegations that the company exaggerated the potential benefits of their blood-pressure drug.

Epstein reiterated that he was focused on rebuilding the company's image in the wake of the issues. “We have to restore trust in our company,” said Epstein. “We have to put the patient first, patient confidentiality is key. Separation of commercial from development is absolutely key, shredding a document is unacceptable. Any unethical behavior is unacceptable for a global company like Novartis. We are communicating with Novartis officials over the issue.”

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