National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) prosecutors are conducting searches ion a criminal case based on suspicions regarding the commission of offences of corruption and associated offences from 2012 to 2015. According to judicial sources, a total of 16 doctors – heads of oncology departments and clinics -, specialists in oncology, coordinators and P.N.S. – Oncology Sub-programme heads, oncologists, the Chairman of the Oncology Committee, and a DSP Targu Mures inspector whose job was to check pharmacies.
Sixty-one addresses – residential addresses, oncology clinics based at the County Hospitals of Sibiu, Zalau, Targu Mures, – CIAS Salaj, ‘Ion Chiricuta’ Oncology Institute, Cluj-Napoca Day Hospital, the oncology practice within the outpatient speciality department of Sibiu Emergency Hospital, Bistrita County Hospital, as well as companies and pharmaceuticals distributors. At Cluj, the prosecutors searched the practices of Dr. Dana Iancu and Dr. Tudor Ciuleanu.
The drug companies targeted in the investigation were paying for expenses related to the participation of doctors from the Mures, Salaj, Sibiu, Bistrita and Cluj Counties in various conferences and international congresses, also meeting personal expenses, trips to various countries, goods, benefits and other services, in return for the specialists prescribing the drugs they produced or distributed and always choosing the more expensive version of the drug to the detriment of the equivalent generics that have the same chemical composition and the same therapeutic result, but are cheaper, ‘Evenimentul Zilei’ reports.
Some of the doctors involved in this activity are members of the drug procurement boards in hospitals. In exchange for buying certain drugs, they demanded and received benefits from drug suppliers.
According to the quoted source, invoices issued by travel companies were identified, related to events held abroad or in the country.
The doctors were also involved in the conduct of so-called clinical trials, for which they were paid. However, the trials are not based on actual data, being just another way by which the specialists were financial rewarded for their support for the drug producers.
The head of the Sibiu County Hospital Oncology Department, Dr. Valeria Valeanu, said on Tuesday, after the search conducted at her home by DNA, that she was innocent and unaware of the accusations made against her, but admits to having benefited from holidays abroad paid for by pharmaceutical companies.
‘As far as I am concerned, I consider myself completely innocent, no matter what this is about’, Dr. Valeanu told Agerpres.
Asked what DNA’s accusations were, the head of the Oncology Department answered that the prosecutors had not told her anything and that she didn’t know what the charges were.
‘They looked for cooperation agreements – something very common – with various pharmaceutical companies, those we work with. I am not the only one with such agreements, the entire country has them. And they probably also looked for drugs’, Valeria Valeanu explained.
Ministry of Health condemns drug manufacturers’ practices aimed at influencing doctors
The Romanian Ministry of Health condemned on Tuesday the measures through which doctors can be influenced by the pharmaceutical companies when prescribing drugs. The Ministry of Health stated in a press release that curbing this type of behaviour which characterizes a part of the medical staff was beneficial for the health system, for the staff and for the patients altogether.
“We prioritized the implementation of instruments aimed at streamlining the [health] system and at minimizing financial loss, such as the launch of the national health card and updating the price of medicine. Furthermore, last year the Ministry of Health tightened access to specialist commissions and, via a [minister’s] order, addressed the situations of incompatibility, through widening the coverage of conflict of interests for members of specialist commissions. Additionally, this year, according to the provisions of the framework contract, service providers are prevented from concluding contracts for services that would grant them commissions for directing patients towards a certain provider. We hope that such inquiries will discourage corruption”, Minister of Health Nicolae Banicioiu stated in the press release.