Serbia: Six Arrested in Pharmaceutics ScandalBelgrade | 01 July 2010 | Bojana Barlovac
The director of the Oncology and Radiology Institute of Serbia, Nenad Borojevic, and several of his colleagues were arrested yesterday on suspicion that they received more than half a million euros in bribes from pharmaceutical companies over a two year period. Beside Borojevic, those arrested include Zoran Bekic, Head of Pediatrics at the Institute; Ivana Popovic, Head of Pharmacy at the Institute, Zoran Tomasevic, Deputy Director of the Institute; Vojislav Petrovic, director of the Roche pharmaceuticals office in Belgrade; Andrej Soretic, Director of PharmaSwiss Oncology Sector and Predrag Marinkovic from AstraZeneca bio-pharmaceutical company.
General hospital in Belgrade
Addressing the Serbian Parliament Committee for Defence and Security on Wednesday, Serbian Interior Minister Ivica Dacic confirmed the information that seven persons had been arrested and that the police investigation into the case lasted 14 months.
"They are suspected of prescribing patients more drugs than necessary in order to increase the consumption of drugs."
According to the police, the suspects will be charged with favouring some pharmaceutical companies in the process of purchasing cancer treatment medicine, and receiving bribes.
Cancer patients were reportedly given higher dosages of cytostatics than necessary in an effort to increase the consumption of medication from the pharmaceutical companies which the suspects dealt with.
The country's Health Minister Tomica Milosavljevic said that the Ministry did not tutor any institution and that there are certain procedures and protocols when it comes to purchasing cytostatics that must be respected.
"If there have been any violations of procedures or embezzlement that is for the competent authorities to determine," broadcaster RTS quoted Milosavljevic as saying.
A statement issued by the Institute upon the arrest of its employees states that they are people who "have participated for many years in successfully establishing and representing the high level of oncology at the Institute, in Serbia and abroad, which has been confirmed by a number of authorities outside of our institution and Serbia."
The statement, however, adds that no employee is exempt from questions about the regularity of his or her work and that any employee will be punished if alleged irregularities are found to be true.