BEIJING: Chinese state media increased the pressure on British pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) over a bribery investigation yesterday, accusing the firm of being responsible rather than individual employees.
Police have already accused GSK staff of offering doctors bribes to prescribe its products and detained four executives.
But the official Xinhua news agency said: “As the investigation is moving on, it is becoming clear that it is organised by GSK China rather than drug salespeople’s individual behaviour.”
GSK has previously admitted that some of its executives broke Chinese law.
In a statement issued yesterday, GSK said it was concerned about allegations of misconduct and would cooperate with the police investigation.
“We remain deeply concerned by the allegations of fraudulent behaviour and ethical misconduct in our China business,” it said.
“The issues identified would be a clear breach of our corporate values and we have zero tolerance for any behaviour of this
Xinhua cited one of the detained GSK officials, general manager for business development Huang Hong, as saying the company set up a special team to handle important clients which had an annual “relations” budget of nearly 10mn yuan ($1.6m).
The report did not say those funds were used for bribes.
Sales growth targets set by the firm as high as 25 percent put pressure on employees, Xinhua quoted Huang as saying.
“If we didn’t have... enough input into safeguarding customer relations, using some methods that broke the rules, it would be hard to meet such high sales growth targets,” she added.