Venezuela probes German drug companies

Venezuela suspects multinational pharmaceutical companies of abusing trade deals. Investigation is being currently conducted.

German companies Merck and Bayer are the first on the list of corrupt medical laboratories.

"Why have 200 million dollars been given to Bayer in 2014 but there are no contraceptives in this country?" Venezuela Health Minister Henry Ventura asked.

The minister, who is leading the investigation, suspects the pharmaceutical companies reduced the production of some medications to allocate preferential dollars to the importation of more profitable medications like vitamins. This, according to the Health Ministry, has caused the scarcity of medications for more serious illnesses.

The Venezuelan branch of Bayer had failed to repatriate around 150 million euros in revenue in bolivars until late last year due to exchange controls, the company said in its annual report.

Yet another case is that of the Merck laboratory, which sells Eutirox medicine for the treatment of thyroid. According to the Health Ministry, Merck earned $285 million last year but the drug is not available in the pharmacies.

"We want transnational companies to stay in this country but producing ethically," Ventura said. "We do not want to think that the pharmaceutical industry is committed to the economic war."

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