Intended for healthcare professionals


US government queries drug companies about alleged funding of Iraqi terrorists

BMJ 2018; 362 doi: (Published 07 August 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;362:k3425
  1. Owen Dyer
  1. Montreal

The US Department of Justice has made inquiries with at least three major drug makers—AstraZeneca, Roche, and Johnson & Johnson—relating to contracts they held in 2005-09 to supply Iraq’s health ministry with drugs and medical equipment.

The ministry was controlled at the time by the Mahdi Army, a Shiite militia, which used bribes or “commissions” paid by the drug makers to finance a roadside bombing campaign against US soldiers, says a lawsuit filed by the families and estates of dozens of US soldiers who were killed or injured by those bombs.1

That lawsuit was filed last October in a District of Columbia court against five companies and their subsidiaries. But the US justice department’s apparent interest in the case is new and came to light when the UK based AstraZeneca mentioned the suit in a securities filing at the end of July. Under “other legal matters,” the company referred to an “Iraq ministry of health litigation/anti-corruption probe.”

The justice department’s inquiry is “in connection with an anti-corruption investigation,” the company reported, and touches on “certain of the same matters alleged in the lawsuit.”

Days later, Johnson & Johnson made a similar statement in its quarterly filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission. A Roche …

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