Korean Anti-Corruption Law Targets Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Companies

A new law implemented by Korea in January requires pharmaceutical and medical device companies to track in minute detail money spent and benefits provided to a broad spectrum of medical professionals. Called the Sunshine Act, the law is part of an aggressive campaign by Korean authorities to battle corruption and crack down on illegal kickbacks in the healthcare industry. Under the law, pharmaceutical and medical device companies are required to collect and maintain records of economic benefits of any amount provided to healthcare professionals and institutions. Companies must keep the expense reports for at least five years and make them available to Korean officials. Companies are obliged to report what they spend on physicians, pharmacists, dentists, traditional Korean medical practitioners, nurses, midwives, and both founders of and marketers associated with medical institutions. In most cases, no expense is too low to trigger the reporting obligation.

 The Sunshine Act was enacted in reponse to several high-profile anti-corruption enforcement actions by Korean regulators last year, including a $48 million fine against Novartis International AG for allegedly offering bribes to doctors in Korea to use its products.