Aifa searched in Roche-Novartis probe

Swiss companies suspected of market manipulation and fraud

(ANSA) - Rome, June 5 - Finance police on Thursday searched the offices of the Italian Medicines Agency (Aifa), the authority responsible for drug regulation in the country, as part of a criminal probe into Swiss pharmaceutical companies Roche and Novartis for alleged market manipulation and fraud. The companies are suspected of collusion to hamper use of a cheap eye drug in favour of a more expensive one. The alleged cartel promoting Novartis's Lucentis over Roche's Avastin is believed to have cost Italy's national health service over 45 million euros in 2012 alone, while future costs could potentially reach 600 million euros a year.
    When news of the probe emerged in March Italian consumer association Codacons said it would ask the country's audit court to verify whether Aifa had acted negligently in the affair.
   

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