Bribery commonplace and massive by foreign pharma firms in China

According to a BBC report, bribes are routinely paid by big pharmaceutical companies doing business in China and the new investigation of the GlaxosmithKline for alleged bribery has heightened international attention to the issue.

The BBC interviewed five drug salesman for foreign companies who told the reporters that their firms all paid bribes in order to increase sales in China.

One of the salesman said his company paid $1000 to get its product back on the shelves at a hospital.

Last month the Chinese police said that the British Drug company Glaxo had engaged in directing up to $500 million  through travel agencies to facilitate bribes to doctors and officials. China’s health care spending is expected to more than double by the end of this decade.

The scandal also expanded to include Sanofi  in early August. Xinhua, the Chinese state news agency, reported that investigations were under way related to allegations that the French drugmaker bribed more than 500 physicians in 2007. Similar to Glaxo, Sanofi stated publicly that it had “zero tolerance for any unethical practices.”

On Aug. 1, Chinese authorities visited one of Novo Nordisk‘s facilities. According to Novo CFO Jesper Brandgaard, the company was asked to provide information regarding its Chinese operations.

Whistleblowers who report early information of such bribes may be entitled to up to 30% of what the U.S. government recovers under the whistleblower program of the Securities and Exchange Commission.