GlaxoSmithKline says finds no evidence of sales staff bribery in China

GlaxoSmithKline said that it found no evidence of wrongdoing after completing an investigation into claims of bribery at the drugmaker’s Chinese business. According to The Wall Street Journal, an anonymous source alleged that the company's sales staff in China were involved in widespread bribery of doctors to prescribe drugs, in some cases for unauthorised uses, between 2004 and 2010.

The person claimed that GlaxoSmithKline's sales staff provided doctors in China with speaking fees, cash payments, dinners and all-expenses-paid trips in return for prescribing the company's medicines. The allegations were put to the drugmaker in January. A company spokesman said that "over the last four months we have used significant resources to thoroughly investigate each and every claim from this single, anonymous source and have found no evidence of corruption or bribery in our China business."

According to the spokesman, GlaxoSmithKline sometimes pays health-care officials to participate in sponsored events and reimburses them for attending scientific conferences, although such payments aren't improper. The spokesman added that the drugmaker's policy complies with US and Chinese rules prohibiting the off-label promotion of drugs.

In 2010, GlaxoSmithKline disclosed that it had been contacted by the US Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission as part of a wider Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) investigation into the pharmaceutical industry's business practices abroad, including in China. Companies such as Eli Lilly, Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer have all reached FCPA settlements in recent years.

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