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Bristol subpoenaed over foreign sales practices


(Reuters)—U.S. drugmaker Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. said on Thursday that it received a subpoena from securities regulators regarding its sales and marketing practices in various foreign countries.

Bristol-Myers, in a filing, said it received the subpoena from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) last month in connection with an investigation under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).

The company said it was cooperating with the government in its investigation. It declined to divulge what countries or products were involved in the probe or to give any details beyond the brief statement in the filing.

Foreign practices among major pharmaceutical companies have come under increasing scrutiny by government regulators as the drugmakers look to expand business into emerging markets.

A Reuters examination of U.S. SEC filings by the world's top 10 drug companies has found that eight of them recently warned of potential costs related to charges of corruption in overseas markets.

But drug companies are far from alone in such scrutiny by federal investigators.

The FCPA has been in the spotlight since a recent New York Times report said senior Wal-Mart Stores Inc. executives stymied an investigation into alleged bribery by its Mexican affiliate, which involved suspect payments of $24 million.

In October, cosmetics company Avon Products Inc. disclosed that it was being probed by the federal government for potential FCPA violations.

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