* Allegations follow corruption accusations in China, Iraq
* GSK says one employee disciplined for improper activity
* Alleged misconduct relates to promotion of lung drug
(Adds GSK and CBA statements, analyst comment, more on other
By Ben Hirschler and Adrian Krajewski
LONDON/WARSAW, April 14 GlaxoSmithKline
is facing a criminal investigation in Poland for allegedly
bribing doctors to promote its lung drug Seretide, adding to
problems for a company already accused of corruption in China
Poland's Central Anti-Corruption Bureau, or CBA, said on
Monday that 13 people had been charged in connection with the
investigation launched by Polish prosecutors.
Britain's biggest drugmaker said one employee had been
disciplined following a company probe into the matter and it was
co-operating with the Polish authorities.
"The investigation found evidence of inappropriate
communication in contravention of GSK policy by a single
employee. The employee concerned was reprimanded and disciplined
as a result," the drugmaker said in a statement.
"We continue to investigate these matters and are
co-operating fully with the CBA (Poland's Central
The case was highlighted by BBC Panorama, which reported
that the investigation included 11 doctors and a GSK regional
manager, charged over alleged corruption between 2010 and 2012.
GSK said the allegations related to the way a respiratory
disease programme was conducted in the Lodz region. The 2010-12
programme centred on GSK's top drug Seretide, also known as
Advair, which has worldwide sales of around $8 billion a year.
According to the BBC, one doctor has admitted guilt and has
been fined and given a suspended sentence, after accepting 100
pounds ($170) for a lecture he never gave.
"In isolation, the events in Poland are trivial but evidence
is building up of sharp practices in many areas of GSK's
organisation which will impact sentiment significantly," said
Panmure Gordon analyst Savvas Neophytou.
GSK, whose shares fell 1.5 percent by 0845 GMT, recently
took steps to tighten up its marketing procedures, including a
move to stop the practice of paying doctors to speak on its
BIG PHARMA'S FAILINGS
International drugmakers interact on a daily basis with many
thousands of doctors and disciplinary action for improper sales
and marketing behaviour is not uncommon.
A Reuters examination in 2012 of filings by the world's top
10 drug companies found that eight of them had warned of
potential costs related to charges of corruption in overseas
markets. Payments to government officials, including
state-employed doctors, to obtain business are illegal under the
U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and the UK Bribery Act.
GSK's 2013 Corporate Responsibility Report lists a total of
161 staff violations of sales and marketing practices, resulting
in 48 dismissals or separations and 113 documented warnings.
In total, 375 employees were dismissed or agreed to leave
the company voluntarily last year for various types of
The level of dismissals is similar to that seen at Swiss
rival Novartis, which reported 357 dismissals and
resignations related to misconduct in its 2013 annual report.
GSK faces its biggest challenge over corruption allegations
in China, where authorities in July accused it of funnelling up
to 3 billion yuan ($483 million) to doctors and officials to
encourage them to use its medicines in a case that rocked the
Last week, the company said it was also investigating
allegations of bribery in Iraq related to a small number of
individuals in the country.
($1 = 6.2113 Chinese Yuan)
($1 = 0.5980 British Pounds)
(Additional reporting by Adrian Krajewski and Karen Rebelo in
Bangalore; Editing by Leslie Adler and Sophie Walker)