Eleven people, including five doctors and one pharmacy owner, were detained on Tuesday 2nd July by the Polícia Judiciária force, as part of a major operation launched early in the morning across the country, the PJ has revealed.

In a statement, the PJ said that the operation involved searches in doctors’ surgeries and health units, residences and other premises, and the fulfillment of arrest warrants related to “facts that may constitute … the crimes of corruption, serious fraud, documents forgery and criminal association.”

The suspected potential damages caused to the National Health Service (SNS), according to the PJ, is estimated at €1 million.

“At issue are several acts, consisting of the issuing of manual prescriptions, using the existing exceptions … which allow them to be 100% subsidised by the SNS, in addition to digital revenues, of very high values and with numerous units prescribed,” the PJ said.

According to the same statement, “drug prescription scenarios were created, not in line with the applicable legislation, which may imply the acceptance of advantages in forms liable to criminal responsibility, with the Portuguese state damaged, for the subsidising of medicines being misallocated.”

The operation was carried out by the PJ’s National Anti-Corruption Unit (UNCC), in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, as part of a drive to combat fraud to the SNS.

A total of 110 PJ inspectors were involved, along with various members of staff from the ministry and the organisation “Infarmed”, the medicines regulator. A total of 30 search warrants and 11 arrest warrants were issued.

The work is being monitored by three public prosecutors from Sintra’s Department of Investigation and Criminal Action (DIAP), in the presence of two judges from the Sintra circuit court.

The detainees – five doctors, one pharmacy owner, and five other people – are aged 40 to 79. They are to be brought before a judge for initial interrogation and the application of any remand or bail conditions.