Source says GlaxoSmithKline sends three executives to China in response to bribery probe

According to a person close to the matter, GlaxoSmithKline sent president of emerging markets and Asia Pacific Abbas Hussain and two other executives to China in response to a probe by the Ministry of Public Security into alleged bribery in the country.

The source noted that Hussain, who is leading GlaxoSmithKline's response to the investigation, is accompanied by the company's global head of internal audit and its deputy chief counsel for China. Mark Reilly, who has led the drugmaker's business in China since 2009, left the country last month and has reportedly been working from GlaxoSmithKline’s headquarters on the response to the probe.

Details of the allegations against GlaxoSmithKline suggest the drugmaker transferred as much as 3 billion yuan ($489 million) to around 700 travel agencies and consultancies to facilitate bribes. Four senior Chinese executives from the company have been detained as part of the probe, while the drugmaker's finance chief in the country Steve Nechelput has been banned from leaving China.

In related news, UCB confirmed that its operations in China had been visited by local authorities following the investigation into GlaxoSmithKline, although a company spokesman said that it was one of a number of drugmakers "both Chinese and foreign" that have been contacted. It was also reported that Shanghai police are holding British national Peter Humphrey a China-fraud investigator thought to be working with GlaxoSmithKline. The drugmaker has denied that Humphrey is an employee, but it is not yet clear whether he could be working as a contractor.

For further information on sales operations and tactics in China, see Inside China’s Pharma Sales Force -– insights from the frontline.

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