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GSK, Merck among pharma companies scrutinized by Department of Justice

Several large pharma companies, including GlaxoSmithKline and Merck, are being investigated by the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission, according to the Financial Times of London.

Justice is looking at payments made by the companies for hospitality, consultants and licensing around the world to see if the companies used the money to influence the reliability of the data in clinical trials performed outside the United States.

Such payments would violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, a U.S. anti-bribery law, according to the paper.

The Times quoted sources familiar with the investigation saying that Justice was looking at all aspects of the companies dealings in non-U.S. markets, including recruiting physicians for clinical trials.

London-based GSK, which has its U.S. headquarters in Research Triangle Park,  told the Times that it had received inquiries from U.S. authorities.

Merck, which has a vaccine plant in Durham, as well as Pfizer, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Eli Lilly have also disclosed being contacted by Justice and the SEC.

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