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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 12264

Warning: This library includes all items relevant to health product marketing that we are aware of regardless of quality. Often we do not agree with all or part of the contents.


Publication type: news

Hall C.
Glaxo, AstraZeneca Get U.K. Document Request on Oil for Food 2007 Dec 30

Full text:

GlaxoSmithKline Plc, the world’s second-largest drugmaker, and AstraZeneca Plc, the U.K.‘s No.2 pharmaceutical company, said they received requests for documents from Britain’s Serious Fraud Office as part of a probe into the United Nations Oil-for-Food program to the former Iraqi regime.

GSK is co-operating fully and freely with the inquiries being made by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the SFO,” Philip Thomson, a spokesman for Brentford, England-based Glaxo, said in an e-mailed statement today. “GSK doesn’t believe that its employees or its agents in Iraq knowingly engaged in wrongdoing regarding the oil-for-food program,” Thomson said.

“AstraZeneca has received a request from the Serious Fraud Office for documents as part of its review of the Oil-for-Food program,” Edel McCaffrey, a spokeswoman for London-based AstraZeneca, said in an e-mailed statement. The company will be providing the documents, she said.

McCaffrey said the company’s position hadn’t changed since February, when it issued a statement denying “any allegation of unethical behavior on our part in our trading relationships with Iraq.” Consignments of medicine sent to Iraq had all relevant UN permission and U.K. government licenses, the company said then.

The UN’s relief effort aimed to lessen civilians’ suffering under sanctions imposed after Iraq’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait. Saddam Hussein’s regime, which retained the right to award contracts, skimmed more than $17 billion through smuggling and graft, according to a 2005 inquiry led by former U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker. Two thousand companies were named in 2006 in an audit report compiled for the UN as trading with Hussein’s government, according to AstraZeneca.

Hussein was hanged exactly one year ago today for crimes against humanity.

A man answering the general phone number of the Serious Fraud office in London today outside of office hours said he wasn’t able to contact a press officer immediately.

The SFO request for documents was reported earlier today by the U.K. Sunday Telegraph.


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