The African Counsel
Sub-Saharan Africa Newsletter
June 2012 Volume 3, Issue 2
Big Pharma in Sub-Saharan Africa:
Watch Your Step!
A Culturally Competent Guide to FCPA Compliance in Sub-Saharan Africa for Pharmaceutical, Medical Device, and Biotechnology Companies
By: Herbert A. Igbanugo, Esq.
As a part of our world filled with paradoxes, Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) inspires both fear and wonder. On the one hand, it is a mysterious land full of opportunity. At the same time, cultural barriers, unstable politics and a shaky infrastructure cause apprehension.
Pharmaceutical, medical device, and biotechnology companies, commonly grouped together and referred to as the "Life Sciences Industry," have the most to risk or lose if they do not approach their dealings in SSA with special care and caution. In the past, the life sciences industry often focused their clinical trials and business transactions in the U.S., Europe, Latin America and Asia. That is no longer the case as SSA has now fully entered the playing field.
SSA is one of the only regions in the world where the life sciences industry has not yet fully explored and does not quite understand. Because of the industry's unfamiliarity with SSA and the region's underdeveloped infrastructure as well as its high level of corruption, breaches of ethical standards and prosecution by justice departments around the world are a constant lurking danger. Among the plethora of legal provisions that the industry must comply with in the region, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) is arguably one of the most important and complex in the context of SSA.