Sanofi becomes latest drug firm under Chinese probe for bribery

12 Aug 2013


Sanofi has become the latest overseas pharmaceutical company to come under probe in a bribery scandal in China after a whistle-blower alleged that the French drug giant paid about 1.69 million  yuan ($280,000) in bribes to 503 doctors in the country. 

Chinese regulators and corruption officials have launched an investigation after an unnamed whistle-blower told the state-owned newspaper 21st Century Business Herald that from 2007 Sanofi had paid 503 doctors at 79 hospitals in Shanghai, Beijing, Hangzhou and Guangzhou a total of $280,000 to prescribe the company's products.

Since the alleged bribes were paid under the  guise of grants for research programmes, the Beijing municipal health bureau would investigate, primarily to see whether the clinical research programmes had a list of patients and their medical reports.

The Paris-based company said in a statement it had zero tolerance towards any unethical practices and was ''committed to cooperating with the authorities in any review they undertake regarding these allegations.''

''Sanofi has established processes in place for reviewing and addressing such issues in a manner that is consistent with our legal and ethical obligations."

The allegation comes after Chinese regulators last month launched a probe into bribery, over-pricing and tax fraud charges against British drug company GlaxoSmithKline  Plc (GSK). (See: China accuses GSK of bribery, raising prices and tax fraud)

Early this month, Chinese authorities visited the Tianjin office of Danish insulin maker Novo Nordisk A/S, while other drug companies allegedly involved in bribing doctors are AstraZeneca Plc and Eli Lilly & Co.
Probe into overseas pharmaceutical companies is the latest instance of growing cases of bribery and corruption charges on multinational corporations in China.

China's National Development and Reforms Commission, the country's economic planning agency, is probing five foreign companies, including Swiss nutrition giant Nestle, France's Danone Dumex, Abbott Laboratories and Mead Johnson Nutrition Co of the US and Dutch cooperative FrieslandCampina for allegedly violating competition laws by manipulating the prices of baby milk products.

Many consumers are buying more expensive foreign infant milk formula because of their concerns over the quality of Chinese products after the baby-milk related scandals that occurred in 2004 and 2008 and also subsequent revelations of high levels of toxic contents in milk products.

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