Investigators believe vaccine prices were inflated
Siena, June 20 - Prosecutors in Siena in charge of a suspected fraud case at Swiss multinational Novartis believe that its vaccine division swindled the Italian health ministry out of 2.7 million euros in 2012 by inflating the price of a component of its H1N1 swine flu vaccine. The health ministry ordered the suspension of vaccine supplies in 2010 after the swine flu emergency abated. A vaccination campaign to immunize up to 40% of Italy's 60 million people began in November 2009 after Italy reported six deaths related to swine flu over the previous months. The CEO of Novartis's vaccine division, Francesco Gulli, is under investigation and two Italian plants of the Swiss multinational were searched Friday. Prosecutors have also accused the multinational's division Novartis Vaccines Diagnostics of failing to adopt precautions to prevent the suspected fraud. The probe is connected to another investigation in Siena over a suspected tax fraud at the company. Friday's was not the first Italian probe to hit the Swiss pharmaceutical giant.