• Jiji


Tokyo public prosecutors indicted Alfresa Corp. and two other major Japanese drug wholesalers on Wednesday on charges of rigging bids to supply prescription medicines to an independent administrative body.

Alfresa, Suzuken Co. and Toho Pharmaceutical Co. were charged by the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office with unfairly restricting trade in violation of the anti-monopoly law.

The prosecutors’ office also indicted seven officials at the three companies on the same charges. They include former Alfresa executive Nobuyuki Gomi, 62, and Suzuken executive Takeshi Nakahara, 61.

The three firms and seven people are believed to have admitted the charges, sources familiar with the investigation said.

The indictments came after the Fair Trade Commission filed a criminal complaint against the companies and people earlier Wednesday.

Industry leader Mediceo Corp. was involved in the bid-rigging, but the prosecutors’ office did not press charges against the company as it admitted its involvement before the FTC opened an investigation.

According to the indictment, officials from Alfresa, Suzuken and Toho fixed the winners of contracts for prescription drugs supplied to 57 hospitals run by the Japan Community Health Care Organization, or JCHO, in June 2016 and June 2018.

In 2018, JCHO ordered some 7,900 drugs in 147 categories for a total of some ¥73.9 billion.

The Japanese market for prescription medicines totals some ¥9 trillion, most of which are sold through wholesalers. The four companies control 90 percent of the market.

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