Roche Says Authorities Visited Office in China’s Hangzhou City

May 22, 2014 1:12 am ET

May 22 (Bloomberg) -- Roche Holding AG said local authorities called on its offices in eastern China’s Hangzhou city yesterday, making it the latest pharmaceutical company in the country to draw government scrutiny.

“We are aware that local government authorities visited Roche’s office in Hangzhou on May 21, and the details of the visit are not clear,” Lei Bao, Roche’s Shanghai-based director of communications, said in an e-mailed statement today. “We will collaborate fully with authorities for any inquiries.”

A far-reaching probe of sales practices in China that began last year has resulted in the arrests of doctors, hospital administrators and pharmaceutical executives across the health- care industry. Police this month handed a case to prosecutors alleging that the former head of GlaxoSmithKline Plc’s China unit ordered sales teams to bribe hospitals and doctors.

In a separate case on May 18, the chairman of Harbin Pharmaceutical Group Sanjing Pharmaceutical Co. jumped to his death while being investigated for corruption.

Drugmakers have poured resources into China over the past decade as rising incomes have made health care more affordable for many. At the same time, the government has spent $180 billion since 2009 to advance its goal of providing basic care for more than 90 percent of its citizens.

President Xi Jinping has made affordable health care a key part of the Communist Party’s agenda.

Glaxo has said it’s cooperating with the authorities. Sanjing, a Chinese generic drug maker, has said its former chairman’s death “would not have a major impact on the company’s operations.”