China Accuses GSK Executives of Bribery and Tax Violations

China’s security ministry claims the executives at UK pharmaceuticals group GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) have confessed to charges of bribery and tax law violations after initial questioning by Chinese police.

According to a statement posted by the ministry on its website GSK is suspected of offering bribes to government officials, medical associations, hospitals and doctors to boost sales and prices. It is also accused of using fake receipts in unspecified tax law violations, the ministry added.

“After initial questioning the suspects have admitted to the crimes, and the investigation is ongoing,” the statement said, although no details were provided on the number of executives questioned, their identities or when the questioning took place.

Earlier this week, GSK said it was investigating allegations that its staff used improper tactics to market Botox, but added that it had found no evidence so far. “We are investigating these new claims. However, our inquiries to date have found no evidence of bribery or corruption in relation to our sales and marketing of therapeutic Botox in China,” a company spokesman had said.

“GSK has some of the toughest compliance procedures in the sector. We are proud of our high standards and operate in accordance with them,” he added.

However, allegations against GSK have also been reported by the
Wall Street Journal
, which claimed that it had reviewed internal company documents which showed that sales staff were “apparently instructed by local managers to use their personal email addresses to discuss marketing strategies related to Botox”.

“In the personal emails, sales staff discuss rewarding doctors for prescribing Botox with cash payments, credits that could be used to meet medical-education requirements and other rewards,” the paper reported.

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