Drug maker GlaxoSmithKline, under investigation on suspicion its employees bribed Chinese doctors, has admitted some of its executives may have broken the law.
The British company said its president for Asia-Pacific and emerging markets Abbas Hussain met Chinese police who are investigating whether GSK employees bribed doctors and hospital administrators to prescribe its drugs.
“Certain senior executives of GSK China who know our systems well appear to have acted outside of our processes and controls, which breaches Chinese law,” Mr Hussain said.
The police ministry has said four employees of GSK’s China unit, including a vice president, have been detained.
The company says its finance director for China is barred from leaving the country but is not detained.
Police say the employees funnelled as much as 3bn yuan (€369m) through travel agencies and consulting firms to hide the source of bribes, according to Chinese news reports. Investigators have not made clear how much of that money was paid as bribes.
The official Xinhua News Agency said last week the employees appeared to have used that strategy to evade the company’s internal anti-bribery controls.
“I want to make it very clear that we share the desire of the Chinese authorities to root out corruption wherever it exists,” said Mr Hussain.
“We fully support the efforts of the Chinese authorities in their reforms of the medical sector and stand ready to work with them to make the changes for the benefit of patients in China,” Hussain said.
“We will actively look at our business model to ensure we make a significant contribution to meeting the economic, healthcare and environmental needs of China and its citizens.”
The new Chinese leadership that took power in November has promised to improve China’s health system and rein in surging costs of medicine and medical care that are fuelling public frustration.