Novartis Japan Office Raided; Director Arrested

June 12, 2014

Prosecutors raided the Novartis Tokyo office on Wednesday, as part of an ongoing investigation surrounding the drugmaker's Diovan hypertension pill.

Last year, a Japanese health ministry panel called for an investigation of Novartis Pharma, the company's Japanese arm, saying it may have violated the law when it cited studies based on allegedly manipulated data. Novartis was accused of promoting Diovan as a treatment for cutting stroke risks without sufficient evidence.

In addition to the raid, former director of the unit’s scientific affairs department, Nobuo Shirahashi, was arrested in Tokyo and accused of manipulating data on a drug study. Prosecutors said Shirahashi violated pharmaceutical law by understating side effects in a study that evaluated Diovan’s efficacy in cutting stroke risk and getting researchers to publish it.

Novartis Japan has apologized and pledged to continue to cooperate with the probe.

Read the Bloomberg story