Novartis Japan ex-employee arrested after clinical data probe

TOKYO, June 11 Wed Jun 11, 2014 3:30am EDT

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TOKYO, June 11 (Reuters) - A former employee of the Japan unit of Novartis AG was arrested on Wednesday on suspicion of manipulating data to promote the Swiss drugmaker's best-selling blood pressure drug Diovan.

Nobuo Shiraishi, 63, was arrested on suspicion of violating Japan's pharmaceutical laws by providing false data to researchers, whose work was intended for use in advertising the drug, the Tokyo District Public Prosecutor's Office said in a statement.

Novartis Pharma KK said it would cooperate with the investigation.

"Regarding the arrest of our former employee, we take this seriously," the company said in a statement. "We will continue to cooperate completely with the investigating authorities, and we again apologise deeply for the concern and difficulties this has caused."

Anyone found guilty of exaggerated advertising of drugs in Japan can be punished with up to two years in prison or a fine of as much as 2 million yen ($19,600), or both. ($1 = 102.2800 Japanese Yen) (Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka and Ritsuko Shimizu; Writing by William Mallard; Editing by Chris Gallagher)

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