Chinese police have released new details of GlaxoSmithKline’s alleged crimes in China, claiming that sales representatives were given “clear directives” to offer bribes to doctors and were trained to cater “to their pleasures.”
By Tom Philips, in Shanghai
1:01PM BST 26 Jul 2013
GSK sales reps “established good personal relations with doctors by catering to their pleasures or offering them money, in order to make them prescribe more drugs,” China’s official news wire Xinhua reported on Friday.
Citing police investigations, Xinhua quoted a 35-year-old female “medical representative” who reportedly worked for a GSK regional sales manager named only as Mr Li.
The woman, named as Ms Wang, said “some executives gave clear directives to the sales department to offer bribes to doctors with money or opportunities to attend academic conferences.”
Ms Wang said she would even go so far as fulfilling some doctors’ “sexual desires” in order to “meet their needs” and persuade them to prescribe more drugs.
A doctor from a “reputable hospital” whose real name was not given, claimed that one GSK representative had “blatantly offered kickbacks to doctors”.
“For example, 20 yuan [£2.11] for each pack of Seretide, an asthma-treating inhaler; and 10 yuan [£1.05] for each dose of Flixotide, an asthma-treating spray.”
If a doctor appeared reluctant to accept cash, GSK “salespeople” would offer them “gifts, free travel after meetings and lecture fees.”
“In fact, many doctors received lecture fees even when the lectures did not exist,” Xinhua reported.
The state-run news agency claimed that a cut of between seven and ten percent of prescribed drugs went directly into “doctors’ personal accounts”.
A spokeman for GSK said: “As we have previously said, we are deeply concerned by allegations of fraudulent behaviour and ethical misconduct by individuals in our China business
“We have zero tolerance for any kind of corrupt behaviour amongst our employees, suppliers and business partners and will take action wherever and whenever we find it
“This behaviour is a clear breach of GSK’s systems, governance, values and standards
“We will continue to cooperate fully with the Chinese authorities in their investigation and take any and every action that is required.”
On Wednesday, the company’s chief executive, Sir Andrew Witty, conceded that “senior figures” in GSK’s China business might have been engaged in “inappropriate and illegal” behavior. Sir Andrew described the allegations as “shameful”.
The scandal erupted in early July when police officials said that during a six-month investigation they had turned up evidence that GlaxoSmithKline had behaved like a criminal “godfather”.
The company had used hundreds of middlemen to channel money to doctors and health workers in order to convince them to prescribe their drugs, it was claimed.
Chinese police alleged that GSK had used travel agents to distribute as much as £323m in kickbacks, bribing “without restraint government officials, drug associations, medical foundations, hospitals and doctors.”
The British director of GSK’s operations in China, Mark Reilly, left China on July 5 and has now been replaced by Herve Gisserot, who previously headed its pharmaceutical operations in Europe. Four Chinese GSK executives have been detained.