NHS officials took £70,000 bribes from drug companies to recommend their medicines to GPs, a court was told.
Medicine boss Paul Jerram and Dr David Turner allegedly acted as ‘paid influencers’ for pharmaceutical companies by promoting prescription drugs to doctors in exchange for ‘secret’ payments.
Jurors were told the NHS officials – compared to referees in the ‘pocket’ of a football team – were paid by businessman Noel Staunton, whose consultancy firm represented pharmaceutical companies.
As a result of their ‘corrupt’ seven-year scheme on the Isle of Wight, the court heard the ‘integrity’ of NHS doctors making honest recommendations about prescription drugs was breached and medicines were improperly pushed to GP surgeries and advisory boards.
Health service pharmacist Cathal Daly – who is also accused of accepting ‘backhanders’ – is also part of the group now on trial for a string of bribery charges.
At Southampton Crown Court, Hampshire, prosecutor James Hines QC said: ‘They used their expertise, their inside knowledge, their influence, and their familiarity with NHS systems to further their own, private interests.
‘They achieved this in a number of different ways, but the object was always the same: to line their own pockets. They took improper payments time and time again.
‘These defendants were each corrupt. They placed their own gain ahead of carrying out their important public functions properly.’