Nobuo Shirahashi, a former director of scientific affairs of Novartis' (NVS) Japanese unit was arrested in Tokyo on charges he violated pharmaceutical law by understating the side effects in a study of the hypertension drug Diovan and persuading researchers to publish it. The Health Ministry filed a complaint in Tokyo against the company seeking a criminal probe for a possible violation of the law by exaggerating Diovan's efficacy in its marketing materials.
This is the latest in a string of embarrassing missteps in Japan for the company. Earlier, a third-party commission found that Novartis employees destroyed evidence and may have accessed patients' personal information during a leukemia study. Independent studies of Diovan and Tasigna were also tainted by improper involvement by company employees.