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September 12, 2013updated 27 Oct 2021 1:49pm

Authorities in China probe Bayer and domestic drug companies

Chinese authorities have reportedly visited German drug company Bayer's offices in China in August to investigate a potential case of unfair competition.

By Heidi Vella

China

Chinese authorities have reportedly visited German drug company Bayer’s offices in China in August to investigate a potential case of unfair competition.

It has also been reported that Beijing has taken its first steps to extend its pharmaceutical corruption probe, which has seen GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) embroiled in a bribery case against them, to domestic pharma companies.

Regulators in China have been busy investigating the practises of international and Chinese drug companies looking into allegations of corruption into how drugs are priced in the country.

Bayer has said, according to Reuters news agency, that it is working with authorities, but did not give any more details about the investigation.

“We are taking the investigation seriously and are fully cooperating with the authority,” Bayer said in an emailed statement to Reuters.

Meanwhile, state television has broadcast claims that a Chinese drug company bribed doctors with trips to Thailand and Taiwan in return for their attendance at an information session about their drug.

The company, Chia Tai Tianqing Pharmaceutical Group, is said to have set up a team to investigate the allegations.

This was the first time Chinese official media had named a domestic company in connection with alleged pharmaceutical corruption.

Sino Biopharm was the second Chinese drug company this week to be the target of media allegations.

“State television has broadcast claims that a Chinese drug company bribed doctors with trips to Thailand and Taiwan in return for their attendance at an information session about their drug.”

Also this week, Century Business Herald newspaper reported that Gan & Lee, a privately-held domestic drug maker, had spent about $131m to promote its drugs during the past five years.

The most high profile investigation by Chinese authorities so far has been that of British drug maker GSK.

Chinese police have detained four Chinese executives from the company over allegations it funnelled up to CYN3bn yuan ($490.36m) through travel agencies to enable bribes to doctors in order to boost sales of its medicines.

GSK have said it appears some of its senior executives may have broken the law, but that head office had no prior knowledge of this.

The EU Chamber of Commerce has complained that Chinese authorities are unfairly targeting foreign pharmaceutical companies.

EU CoC head of the pharmaceuticals working group Bruno Gensburger is reported by The Financial Times to have said: “I feel it is a little bit unfair that the foreign companies who are the most serious about [best practices] have been the most investigated and the most discriminated [against].”


Image: Regulators in China have been busy investigating the practises of international and Chinese drug companies looking at allegations of corruption into how drugs are priced in the country. Photo: courtesy of Mao Zedong.

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