Croatia Arrests Pharma Co Farmal's Staff, Doctors in Bribery Case  
11/13/2012 7:14:12 AM

Croatia's anti-corruption police have arrested the management of a local pharmaceutical firm and dozens of doctors on suspicion of bribery over the prescription of medicines, officials said on Monday. The former Yugoslav republic is scheduled to join the European Union next July but its efforts to fight widespread corruption and organised crime will be closely monitored in Brussels and other EU capitals before then. The USKOK anti-graft agency said police were investigating 26 employees of a pharmaceutical company, 49 doctors and one pharmacist suspected of bribery. Health Minister Rajko Ostojic said the actual number of those involved in illegal payments could be much higher, with 350 doctors under suspicion of taking bribes. "We can expect further arrests," he told a news conference. "The fight against corruption is in our crucial interest in all segments of society." Government officials did not name the company involved. The USKOK operation, code-named Hippocratus, is the latest example of action against corruption in pharmaceutical prescribing practices in eastern Europe and other emerging markets.