Contributed By Jones Day
General anti-bribery rules that apply to the interactions between pharmaceutical companies and healthcare professionals or organisations are provided in the Penal Code (Act No 45 of 24 April 1907, as amended). In addition, pharmaceutical companies are expected to comply with the National Public Service Ethics Code (the 'Ethics Code'). Further, the Unfair Competition Prevention Act (Act No 47 of 19 May 1993, as amended) (UCPA) provides rules regarding bribery to foreign officials. These regulations apply only to benefits provided to recipients who are individuals (eg, public officers).
Article 198 of the Penal Code is the basic anti-bribery regulation that directly applies to officers or employees of pharmaceutical companies. Article 198 provides that any person who gives, offers or promises to give a bribe to a public official shall be punished by imprisonment with labour for not more than three years or a fine of not more than JPY2.5 million.
Bribery under the Penal Code is broadly defined. It covers not only money or goods but also any benefit (material or immaterial) sufficient to satisfy a person’s desires. “Public Official” is also broadly defined. The term includes not only national or local government officials but also individuals deemed government officials under special laws.
National Public Service Ethics Code
The Ethics Code is a code established by the Cabinet based on the National Public Service Act for the purpose of maintaining the integrity of, and citizens’ trust in, public service. The Ethics Code prohibits national public officials from receiving money or goods from interested parties. In some situations, pharmaceutical companies can be considered such 'interested parties'. The Ethics Code provides for some exemptions, including, among others:
Unfair Competition Prevention Act
Article 18 (1) of the UCPA prohibits any person from giving, offering or promising to give any benefit to a foreign public official to have that foreign public official act or refrain from acting in relation to the performance of his or her official duties, in order to make any illicit gains in business with regard to an international commercial transaction. An employee of a pharmaceutical company who violated Article 18 would face imprisonment with labour for up to five years and/or a fine of up to JPY5 million. Further, the pharmaceutical company itself may also be subject to a fine of up to JPY300 million.
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