Hospitals fined $480,000 for forcing contributions

Home > National > Social Affairs

print dictionary print

Hospitals fined $480,000 for forcing contributions

테스트

Korea’s antitrust agency yesterday slapped a fine of 550 million won ($480,000) on operators of two general hospitals for allegedly forcing drug companies to donate 24.1 billion won for new construction and property expansion projects.

The hospitals involved are Catholic University of Korea’s Catholic Medical Center and Yonsei University Health System.

Seoul National University Hospital and Ajou University Medical Center received warnings.

A spokesman for the Yonsei University Health System said the hospital had done nothing wrong. Officials at the other hospitals could not be immediately reached for comment.

This is the first time that the Fair Trade Commission has slapped such fines on hospital operators for soliciting donations from drug companies. Those companies’ sales are largely determined by demand from large medical institutions.

According to the antitrust agency, the four operators received donations from local drug makers to buy land and erect new buildings.

“The giant hospitals, not the drug makers, decided when, how much and in what fashion the donations were to be made,” said the agency in a statement.

“The drug companies also saw the solicitation of donations as forcing them to pay money to maintain business relations,” said the statement.

Putting pressure on the drug companies to chip in for such projects, which practically benefit them directly, is “unfair” and the donations do not appear to be for well-intentioned charity, according to the statement.

“Doing so will make it more likely for the hospitals to maintain business [with drug companies] based on their contributions rather than price and product quality, which will harm fair competition and consumer interest.”

The agency did not disclose the name of donor companies as some of the companies that offered comments and evidence to government investigators asked not to be identified out of fear of losing business with the hospitals.

According to the agency, Catholic Medical Center, which faces a fine of 300 million won, received 17.6 billion won in donations from drug companies from 2005 to 2008 to build a new medical students’ center.

Yonsei University Health System, fined 250 million won, reportedly received 6.1 billion won in such donations from 2005 to 2007 to build a hospital building.

Seoul National University Hospital and Ajou University Medical Center also received 470 million won and 453 million won, respectively, for similar purposes.

A Yonsei University Health System spokesman argued that the donations were purely voluntary and no donors benefited from their contributions.

“There was absolutely no logical link between the drug companies’ donations and their sales to our organization afterward,” said Lee Sung-man.

“We made it very clear to the agency that our drug purchase volume or prescriptions for the drugs made by the donor companies did not increase much afterward,” he said.

He said some drug companies even saw their sales to the hospital decline after the donations.

Lee said the hospital will decide what action to take, including the filing of a possible appeal, when the official notification from the agency arrives. Such notification usually takes about a week after the public announcement, he said.

But Kwon Soon-kuk, the Fair Trade Commission’s deputy director of market monitoring, said the key issue is that the drug firms made the donations solely to remain on good terms with hospitals and keep their business with the giant buyers, rather than necessarily to increase their sales.

“What’s important is that the drug firm representatives we talked to said their donations were not voluntary at all, and they were afraid that they would face difficulties in business if they did not meet the hospitals’ demands.”


By Jung Ha-won [hawon@joongang.co.kr]
Related Korean Article

제약사에 리베이트성 기부 강요 … 대학병원 4곳에 5억원대 과징금



서울대병원·연세의료원 등 대형 종합병원들이 제약회사에 리베이트성 기부금을 강요하다 적발돼 과징금을 물게 됐다. 지금까지 리베이트와 관련해선 주로 제약회사들이 제재를 받아왔으며, 리베이트와 유사한 돈을 받은 병원이 처벌받기는 이번이 처음이다.

공정거래위원회는 18일 병원 건물 신축이나 부지 매입 명목으로 제약회사로부터 거액의 기부금을 받은 가톨릭중앙의료원과 연세의료원·서울대병원·아주대의료원에 대해 시정명령을 내리고 5억5000만원의 과징금을 부과했다고 밝혔다.

공정위 조사 결과 이들 병원은 기부금을 받기 위해 다양한 수단을 동원한 것으로 나타났다. 한 대학병원은 ‘외부에 문제가 되지 않는 범위 내에서 가능한 한 고액의 기금을 마련하기 위해 효율적인 방법을 모색하겠다’며 모금안을 만들기도 했다. 여기에는 기부금을 내는 제약사에 대해선 일정 기간 해당 회사의 의약품을 교체하지 않고 사용할 것을 약속하거나, 기존에 거래했던 의약품을 기부금을 낸 회사의 의약품으로 교체하는 조건을 거는 방안이 포함됐다. 이에 따라 한 제약사는 이 병원에 26억원의 기부금을 낸 것으로 알려졌다.


  • 한글 기사 보기
  • More in Social Affairs

    Green religion

    Flu vaccines left out of the fridge, program halted

    Mount Halla's fir forest is withering

    Moon issues stern warning to potential Foundation Day protesters

    Prosecutors raid homes of Choo's son and others implicated in scandal

    Log in to Twitter or Facebook account to connect
    with the Korea JoongAng Daily
    help-image Social comment?
    lock icon

    To write comments, please log in to one of the accounts.

    Standards Board Policy (0/250자)

    What’s Popular Now