|Novartis faces criminal suit over suspect drug claims
Japan's health ministry plans to file a criminal complaint against the local arm of Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis over alleged exaggerated advertising for a popular blood-pressure drug, an official said.
Novartis Pharma KK has been under fire since a university said the data in clinical studies might have been skewed to promote Valsartan.
Health Minister Norihisa Tamura has characterised as ``extremely regrettable'' the incident in which an employee of the world's number two drug maker hid his affiliation during a medical study into the effects of the drug, which is used to lower blood pressure.
“We will take some action [against Novartis] as soon as we have completed arrangements,'' said the official at the ministry's compliance division.
“But it is technically difficult to do it today as the hour is getting late,'' he told AFP late Wednesday. “We may continue making such arrangements tomorrow.''
Kyodo news agency reported earlier the ministry was to file a criminal charge against Novartis' local arm on Wednesday.
Under Japan's pharmaceutical law, anyone found guilty of exaggerated advertising can be punished with up to two years in prison or a fine of as much as two million yen (US$19,400).