Whistleblower tips: When is a bribe a bribe? Glaxo under investigation for bribes in China

According to the Wall Street Journal, emails and other documents reviewed by the paper’s reporters reveal information uncovered by a tipster alleging that Glaxo’s China sales staff provided doctors with speaking fees, cash payments, lavish dinners and all expenses paid trips in return for prescribing the drug company’s products. Glaxo says it is looking into the matter. Like in the U.S., patients in China need a doctor’s prescription to buy regulated drugs and drug sales persons meet frequently with doctors to try to get them to prescribe products. However, unlike the U.S., the government controls all of China’s health care system so any purchased are through government paid physicians. Under the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act it is illegal for companies with significant U.S. operations to bribe foreign officials or their agents in exchange for business. Whistleblower tipsters are now coming forward to be part of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s new whistleblower program allowing the tipsters a reward of up to 30% of the moneys recovered. The Glaxo whistleblower says that between 2004 through 2010 Glaxo regularly gave cash to its sales staff in China and some of that went directly to doctors at Chinese hospitals in return for prescribing drugs from the company. Recently Glaxo settled a case with the U.S. Department of Justice relating to its drug marketing practices. Under the new SEC program, whistleblowers may come forward anonymously through counsel, thereby protecting themselves. Jeffrey Newman represents whistleblowers. jeffrey.newman1@gmail.com. www.JeffreyNewmanLaw.com