SHANGHAI Dec 17 Chinese drugmaker Shanghai
Pharmaceuticals Holding Co Ltd said it is
investigating an allegation in local media that a subsidiary
bribed hospital and industry staff to boost drug sales.
The subsidiary paid 766,500 yuan ($126,200) in bribes
between January and June this year to staff at 31 hospitals in
the eastern city of Qingdao, the 21st Century Herald newspaper
reported on Tuesday, citing documents shown to it by an
Regulators have probed numerous domestic and international
drugs firms this year, with investigations into the
pharmaceutical sector ranging from alleged corruption to how
drugs are priced.
The most high-profile investigation involves GlaxoSmithKline
PLC, Britain's largest drugmaker.
Shanghai Pharmaceuticals has opened a probe into the alleged
bribes by subsidiary Qingdao Growful Pharmaceutical Co Ltd, the
Shanghai-listed firm said in a statement to Reuters.
"As soon as we confirm the truth of the matter, we will set
up systems to investigate further and adopt the necessary
measures according to Chinese law and the firm's internal
policies," it said in the statement.
"The company has always taken a zero-tolerance attitude
towards putting a stop to illegal and unprincipled behaviour."
The parent drugmaker, which had revenues of 68.1 billion
yuan ($11.21 billion) last year according to its annual
financial report, holds nearly 70 percent of Qingdao Growful.
Qingdao Growful paid doctors to prescribe its "Hong Yuan Da"
iron deficiency medicine, the 21st Century Herald reported.
The payments covered thousands of patients, the newspaper
reported citing documents showing payment amounts and dates,
doctor and patient names, as well as hospital details.
There has been a series of allegations in the media since
the GSK investigation started in July, with a number of
whistleblowers making a beeline for the 21st Century Business
The newspaper quoted whistleblowers in August this year
saying U.S. drugmaker Eli Lilly and Co, Swiss drugmaker
Novartis AG and French company Sanofi SA had
paid bribes to doctors to boost drug sales.
Hong Kong-listed Sino Biopharmaceutical and
privately held Gan & Lee Pharmaceuticals, of which Goldman Sachs
Group Inc holds a stake, have also come under the
spotlight for improper payments to doctors.
Corruption in China's pharmaceutical industry is widespread,
fuelled in part by low base salaries for doctors at the
country's 13,500 public hospitals.
Shanghai Pharmaceutical shares ended down 4.9 percent on
Tuesday, compared with the wider CSI300 index which
fell 0.5 percent.
($1 = 6.0715 Chinese yuan)
(Additional reporting by SHANGHAI newsroom; Editing by Kazunori
Takada and Christopher Cushing)