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In a modest victory for Novartis, a Japanese court decided the drug maker and a former employee were not guilty of violating a law that bans fraudulent and exaggerated advertising claims in connection with a research paper about the Diovan heart drug. A Novartis spokesman confirmed the ruling.

The decision stems from an episode in 2014 when the company was accused of altering data in a study in order to make the drug appear better than rival medicines. The research was conducted by several Japanese universities, some of which determined results were falsified.


The disclosure was an embarrassment for Novartis, which later conceded that a conflict of interest existed since it knew the former employee, Nobuo Shirahashi, participated in the study without acknowledging his affiliation in papers that were published in, and later retracted by, medical journals.

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