AstraZeneca's official response.
ASTRAZENECA AND ITS EMPLOYEES COMMITTED TO HIGHEST STANDARDS OF ETHICS AND INTEGRITY
April 13, 2007"”Wilmington, Delaware"”AstraZeneca (NYSE: AZN) is presently the focus of news stories that began when senior management became aware of the contents of an unauthorized newsletter. The company acted immediately to dismiss the person responsible because his comments and the direction he gave to his team violated the core purpose of the company.First and foremost, AstraZeneca is committed to patient health--it's what the company is founded on, and it's what drives the people who work here. The work we do to develop and deliver medicines to the marketplace is all in service of the patient. Ensuring that we focus on improving patient health, and ensuring that we are successful in maintaining our business are not mutually exclusive. We are looking into this incident to fully understand what happened with the goal of understanding all of the details, strengthening our processes, and helping our employees do their jobs in a way that is effective and in keeping with AstraZeneca's core beliefs.Recently, there have been blog postings questioning sales practices and compliance issues. The company takes claims of misconduct very seriously and investigates these in a timely and effective manner. Investigations concerning the specific claims referenced were initiated. Some claims reported prior to this incident were investigated and concluded with appropriate corrective action being taken. More recent claims are actively being investigated.AstraZeneca investigates all claims when we learn about them, whether through our hotline or through other means, as long as enough detailed information around the claim exists. We are particularly determined to address claims of retaliation"”these claims are considered a priority in our investigative process. In fact, our U.S. Code of Conduct makes it clear to all employees that "raising a legitimate issue - in good faith - of a possible violation by others will not adversely impact [the employee]. Any act or threat of retaliation by an employee against another in response to the disclosure of a potential policy violation will be considered a serious violation of the Code." In each instance, AstraZeneca acted in a manner consistent with its compliance program requirements and its obligations under the Corporate Integrity Agreement (CIA). Responding to complaints is a fundamental element of our compliance program, and is consistent with the ethical values that underpin our business. We have a robust compliance program that calls for responsible sales and marketing practices that comply with applicable laws, regulations and industry standards such the PhRMA Code and the American Medical Association guidelines, as well as AstraZeneca's internal policies. For example, AstraZeneca has policies and procedures in place that provide direction to its employees about the appropriate promotion of our products. Pursuant to our CIA, our sales representatives are required to complete extensive sales and marketing compliance training annually. In addition, they are updated regularly by both their management and by the local compliance staff we have allocated to each regional business center, who are tasked with helping them follow current, new, and updated policies that are put into place.The AstraZeneca Compliance Program and the company's toll-free hotline have been in place since AstraZeneca's inception (8 years ago). As part of our effort to create a robust internal dialogue concerning compliance and ethics, employees are afforded various ways to discuss compliance questions and report alleged misconduct, including discussing these issues with their managers, the Legal Department, the Compliance staff, Human Resources, or anonymously, if they choose, through the Code of Conduct Helpline. AstraZeneca employees work hard each and every day to live up to our company values and standards. We are proud of them and our work. An unfortunate consequence of this situation is that it jeopardizes the company's reputation, the reputation of our sales force, and the trust employees have built with patients, physicians and allies. As we move forward as a business, we will continue to stand by our values, act accordingly and support the good work of our employees.