Anti-corruption probe in China indicts top UK GSK executive

A Chinese anti-corruption probe has indicted a top British executive of UK-based pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) along with 45 others for offering huge bribes to hospital officials to use its medical products.

Mark Reilly, a British national and manager of GSK China, is the first foreign employee of the beleaguered GSK accused of bribing hospital officials to sell their medicines.

After a 10-month investigation, the case has been handed over to prosecutors, police of Changsha city was quoted as saying by state-run Xinhua news agency.

The case involves a total of 45 suspects apart from Reilly. Police alleged that Reilly had ordered his subordinates to offer bribes.

Reilly allegedly pressed his sales teams to bribe hospitals, doctors, other medical institutions and organisations through various means and gained illegal revenue worth billions, investigation said.

To boost sales and squeeze out rival companies, GSK China allegedly bribed doctors to prescribe their drugs.

Mark Reilly and two other colleagues are also suspected of bribing government officials in Beijing and Shanghai, they said.

Police have handed the case over to prosecutors, officials said. GSK said it took the allegations "very seriously" and would co-operate with the authorities over the matter.

Li, one of the suspects in the case and doctor at a Hunan hospital, said that a GSK sale representative offered him 20 yuan (USD 3) for every box of Heptodin he prescribed and 100 yuan for every new patient who started using the drug. Heptodin is used to treat Hepatitis B.

Li normally prescribed 150 to 200 boxes of Heptodin and recruited five to eight new patients each month, which brought him about 4,800 yuan of extra income. Tan would register the expense as payment for Li lecturing in the company's training programs.

"I paid him every month but in fact he just gave lectures once or twice," Tan said.

Another way to bribe doctors is to cover the expenses of attending medical seminars.

Zhang Guowei, a key suspect who was vice president and human resources director of GSK China, said that the focus on sales growth led to the bribery.

Police found that the company forced its sales team to bribe to achieve their soaring sales targets.

Liang Hong who was the company's vice president and operations manager, confirmed that those who met sales targets received big bonuses, promotions and overseas vacations while those who failed were demoted or fired.

GSK China's revenue in China increased from about 3.9 billion yuan in 2009 to 6.9 billion yuan in 2012.

Last July, police detained four senior executives of GSK China on suspicion of commercial bribery. Reilly was not among them.

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