For the SECOND time this month GLAXOSMITHKLINE is involved in a SCANDAL in CHINA
2013/06/13 – 06:31 by Ed Silverman
For the second time this month, GlaxoSmithKline is embroiled in a scandal in China. In this case, the drug company is investigating allegations that its sales staff engaged in bribing doctors into prescribing drugs, sometimes on an off-label basis, between 2004 and 2009, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Glaxo ISFs allegedly provided doctors with language training, cash, dinners and paid travel in exchange for prescriptions for various drugs. The allegations, the newspaper writes, were made by an anonymous FSI, who sent emails to Glaxo's board, senior executives and compliance officers earlier this year.
One example: The ISF has urged doctors to prescribe the epilepsy drug Lamictal to patients with bipolar disorder, which represents unauthorized use, and one patient has fallen seriously ill, the journal writes, which has reviewed some of the documents. Glaxo acknowledged that an adverse event occurred, but it wasn't due to off-label marketing.
"Over the past four months, we have used significant resources to thoroughly investigate every claim from this single, anonymous source and have found no evidence of corruption or bribery in our China business," a Glaxo spokesperson said.
He adds that Glaxo sometimes pays health officials to attend sponsored events and reimburses them for attendance at scientific conferences, but insists that the payments are not improper, they are expense reports, and recalls that Glaxo is one of several houses pharmaceutical company which has been barred by US officials from paying bribes to foreign officials, as it would violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
Separately, Glaxo last week determined that a published scientific paper published in Nature Medicine contained fabricated data and was rejected by Jingwu Zang, one of the listed authors, who was a senior VP and head of research and development in Shanghai, China. The drug company is also seeking a retraction. And three other employees have been placed on administrative leave pending a final review and a fifth has resigned (old story).
The scandals erupted less than a year after Glaxo agreed to plead guilty and pay $3 billion to settle criminal and civil charges in connection with off-label promotion of several drugs, failing to disclose safety data and reporting false prices. At present, Glaxo CEO Andrew Witty has pledged that "we've learned from the mistakes we've made," and will strive for a more compliant and transparent operation.
Federal officials have aggressively prosecuted the pharmaceutical industry for violating the FCPA and fined several drug companies. Last year, Eli Lilly (LLY) paid $ 29 billion in fines and Pfizer (PFE) paid $ 60 million in fines, two years ago, Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) paid a fine of $ 70 million. And Teva Pharmaceutical and Br