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  • Elizabeth A. McMorrow

Biotech Beware: Public Health Care Services Tops the Latest LATAM Corruption Stats

The recent study by Transparency International reviewed several public services from a corruption standpoint. The study covered 20 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. The news is not good for those operating within the health care services world: public health care services had the highest bribery rate.

The below data should not be viewed as an attack by the sales prevention team but instead a sales and marketing education opportunity. Education is the first step to a strong compliance program. More importantly, awareness of corruption obstacles will help the patients you serve.

Corruption Index

Transparency International looked at the bribery rates for six key public services to see which were at greatest risk of bribery. These six services were: public schools, personal identification documentation, utilities, police, courts and health care.

According to the study, one in five people who had accessed medical care across LATAM in the previous 12 months (including for urgent lifesaving treatments) had paid a bribe to get the care they needed. The individual country breakouts are as follows:

Mexico topped the list in healthcare services corruption across the entire LATAM study. This point is important because the OECD lists Mexico as one of the hot spots for biotech companies.

Biotech Countries

The OECD tracks certain global biotechnology statistics. The below chart is helpful beyond the LATAM world as it shows the countries with the largest number of biotechs and each jurisdiction’s corresponding corruption rating. Low numbers indicate lower corruption.

The data does not cover the same time frame. Although the OECD data was last updated in October 2016, the data is from 2009 – 2015. Transparency International conducted its LATAM study during 2016. However, the data is sufficiently contemporaneous to alert biotechs to corruption red flags.

More than Subsidiaries

The OECD statistics are based on a company presence in a particular jurisdiction. However, employees travel to jurisdictions in which the company does not have a presence and which may rank high on the corruption index. The corruption red flags do not only impact your foreign subsidiaries and travelling sales team. It also impacts activities undertaken while sitting in headquarters.

For further guidance on this topic, compliance training, and management of your foreign subsidiary legal issues you may contact me at

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