37 doctors accused in Farmal bribery case make deal with prosecution
Thirty-seven of family medicine doctors accused of bribery reached an agreement with the prosecution at the Zagreb County Court on Thursday after pleading guilty to taking bribes from a pharmaceutical company.
The indictment is unique in Croatia’s judicial history in that it covers the largest number of defendants in a single case, as many as 365 people charged with receiving and giving bribes, abuse of official position, and incitement to wrongdoing.
The accused allegedly received bribes from the Farmal company and in return prescribed its medicines to their patients. An investigation found that the company had spent about 14 million kuna (nearly two million euros) annually on bribery.
Under the agreement with the prosecution, the accused will receive suspended sentences and will pay back the money they received in bribes.
The indictment, filed late last December, names 335 family medicine doctors, 29 Farmal employees and Farmal as a legal entity. It includes only the doctors accused of receiving bribes or vouchers, while doctors who prescribed Farmal medicines in return for other benefits, such as paid conventions, were not charged.
Media have reported that the corruption ring involved over 500 doctors, and it is speculated that nearly half of the 335 accused doctors could eventually make a deal with the prosecution.
The main defendant is Farmal CEO Drazen Dedi who, along with four other executives of that firm, organised a network of doctors and pharmacists who received bribes in return for prescribing the company’s medicines to their patients. The indictment covers the period from 2009 to October 2012.