British pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline Plc (GSK) has launched a fresh inquiry into allegations that its employees in China paid bribes to doctors to prescribe wrinkle treatment drug Botox.
The allegation is another blow to the London-based company, which is already under investigation in one case by the Chinese police for economic crimes and in another case by regulators over suspected price fixing. (See: China launches probe on GSK over price fixing)
The The Wall Street Journal said in a report that internal GSK documents and emails reveal that the company's sales staff were instructed by local managers to use their personal email addresses to discuss marketing strategies related to Botox
The paper said that the employee emails discuss rewarding doctors for prescribing Botox with cash payments, credits that could be used to meet medical-education requirements and other rewards.
The marketing strategy was called "Vasily", after the Russian World War II sniper Vasily Zaytsev.
According to the report the investigation stems from the same anonymous whistle-blower who had earlier this year given GSK details on how high level company employees had given doctors speaking fees, cash payments, dinners and all-expenses-paid trips between 2004 and 2010 for prescribing its products.
GSK later said that it had conducted an internal probe, but there was no evidence to prove the allegations.
GSK today said that it was investigating the new allegations, but had so far found no evidence of bribery or corruption.
''We have investigated the specific claim on the so-called Vasily programme. Our investigation has found that while the proposal didn't contain anything untoward, the programme was never implemented,'' a company spokesman told the paper.