Ethical Performance
inside intelligence for responsible business


GSK faces corruption charges in Poland

May 2014

The UK multinational GlaxoSmithKline has been accused of bribing doctors in Poland to prescribe one of its drugs, the asthma inhalant Serevent.

As the Polish police pursued a corruption investigation, Jarek Wisniewski, a former sales representative of the pharmaceuticals group in the Lódz region, said: “There is a simple equation. We pay doctors, they give us prescriptions. We don’t pay doctors, we don’t see prescriptions for our drugs.”

Wisniewski said that ostensibly the payments were for educational services. However, the Lódz public prosecutor investigated 12 health centres where doctors had received payments but found no indication of patient education sessions.

A GSK regional manager and eleven doctors have now been charged with corruption between 2010 and 2012.

The company, which has conducted a separate inquiry, said: “The investigation found evidence of inappropriate communication in contravention of GSK policy by a single employee. The employee concerned was reprimanded and disciplined.”

A doctor, who admitted accepting £100 for a lecture that he did not deliver, has been fined and given a suspended jail sentence. He claimed he was under pressure from a GSK representative

The GSK inquiry is continuing and the company has said it is co-operating with the Polish corruption investigators.
If the allegations are proved in Poland, the company could also be prosecuted in Britain and the US for bribing foreign government employees.

The Polish case is the third of its kind in recent years to be made out against GSK. In 2012 the company paid $3bn (£1.8bn, €2.17bn) in the largest healthcare fraud settlement in US history for promoting drugs for unapproved uses and failing to report safety data about a diabetes drug to the authorities.

In December the company committed itself to change its incentive schemes after China’s public security ministry accused it of corruptly funnelling 3bn yuan ($480m, £286m, €347m) through travel agencies between 2007 and 2010.

GSK | Global | Corruption

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