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Merck Probed by Federal Agencies Over Bribery

August 10, 2010
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Two federal agencies are probing drugmaker Merck & Co. for possibly violating anti-bribery laws in multiple foreign countries, according to the Associated Press. Merck, the world''s second-biggest drugmaker by revenue, has received inquiry letters from both the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company said in a regulatory filing. The letters "seek information about activities in a number of countries and reference the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act," according to Merck. The FCPA act bars U.S. companies from bribing government officials in other countries to win business, among other things. Merck disclosed the investigation in a regulatory filing with the SEC. Merck said in the filing that it is cooperating with the agencies and believes that the probe is part of a broader review of pharmaceutical industry practices overseas. Merck and most other large drugmakers for the past couple years have been hotly pursuing sales in emerging markets including China, Russia, India and Brazil. Government health programs in such countries often control the prices allowed for prescription drugs and decide which brands they will buy for millions of hospital and other patients.

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