Glaxo Disciplines Employee After Bribery Allegations in Poland

Apr 14, 2014 5:32 am ET

April 14 (Bloomberg) -- GlaxoSmithKline Plc, the U.K. drugmaker under investigation for corruption in China, said it disciplined an employee in Poland in connection with a bribery probe that is the subject of a BBC report today.

Twelve doctors and a Glaxo regional manager were charged in connection to the alleged corruption in 2012 and the investigation isn’t complete, according to Jacek Pakula, a spokesman for the Lodz prosecutor’s office. The doctors were paid to push Glaxo’s Seretide asthma drug under the pretense they were being compensated for educational talks, the BBC said on its website, citing a former Glaxo sales representative.

Glaxo has been under investigation since last year for bribing doctors in China, and last week said it would look into allegations of similar behavior in Iraq. In March, Glaxo said it would hire doctors to give talks about its drugs rather than pay external speakers as part of larger overhaul of its marketing practices.

“We agree there is a need to modernize interactions between the pharmaceutical industry and health-care professionals to ensure patients’ interests are always put first and to eliminate even a perception of a conflict of interest,” the company said today in an e-mailed statement. 

In Poland, doctors were paid to give talks to patients and other medical professionals from 2010 to 2012. The doctors “received payments appropriate to the scope of work,” Glaxo said in the statement.

After an internal investigation, the company said it found one employee who violated company policy by engaging in “inappropriate communication.” The employee was reprimanded and disciplined, and Glaxo is cooperating with Polish authorities, the company said.

The prosecutor’s investigation will last at least until June, Pakula said. The Glaxo employee and the doctors face six months to eight years of imprisonment under Polish law, he said. Pakula declined to comment on the scale of the alleged bribes.

Oliver Staley in London at +44-20-3216-4369 or ostaley@bloomberg.net

--With assistance from Konrad Krasuski in Warsaw and Makiko Kitamura in London.