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News in English 15.07.2013 kl. 15:09

Doctor illegally accepted money from pharmaceutical industry

A heart doctor from Rigshospital has been charged with fraud after buying furniture and fishing holidays using money from pharmaceutical companies A senior physician illegally spent hospital funds to buy expensive furniture and salmon fishing holidays to Norway, Jyllands-Posten newspaper...

Peer Grande, a 62-year-old Norwegian heart doctor at the Copenhagen hospital Rigshospitalet, has been the focus of an investigation by the newspaper since it discovered in June that he had received money in his private account that should have been paid to the hospital.

Since 2000, Grande has received over two million kroner from the pharmaceutical companies MSD and Pfizer in connection with trials that the companies were carrying out at Rigshospitalet under Grande's supervision.

But rules enacted in 1999 barred doctors from directly receiving money from pharmaceutical companies. According to the regulations, the money should always be paid into a hospital bank account in order to prevent questions about the impartiality of doctors who carry out the studies.

Yesterday, Jyllands-Posten revealed that Grande used the pharmaceutical funds to pay for 61,000 kroner worth of furniture and at least 61,000 kroner on fishing trips in Norway.

After being presented by Jyllands-Posten's evidence, Rigshospitalet chose to report Grande to the Copenhagen Police, which has charged him with fraud.

Until 1999, doctors were allowed to receive and administer money directly from pharmaceutical companies. According to Jyllands-Posten, Grande has had a bank account with Danske Bank since the 1980s specifically for this purpose. The account is in Rigshospitalet’s name but Grande is the only person who can access it.

Copenhagen’s local health authority, Region Hovedstaden, is now investigating the possibility that more of these shadow accounts may exist.

“We are looking at all the protocols to see if they are working as they should,” Rigshospitalet’s spokesperson Jannik Hilsted told Jyllands-Posten. "After a case like this, what we are focussing on is whether pharmaceutical companies are paying money in accordance with the hospital’s rules for the external financing of clinical trials, and if the money is being placed in the right accounts.”

Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca stated last week that it was investigating all of its clinical trials in Denmark to see if the money it paid made its way to the right recipients.

“These are serious allegations that have been raised and we want to ensure that we followed the rules correctly,” company spokesperson Martin Olovsson told Jyllands-Posten. “After the summer holiday we will start a special task force to take a look at all the clinical trials we have financed in Denmark over the past ten years. We want to be able to sleep easily at night knowing that everything is in order.”

Grande ran six trials for AstraZeneca since 2005 and according to their information the money was paid into the correct account.

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