Officials in China are investigating allegations Sanofi disguised bribes totalling about 1.7 million Chinese yuan ($277 600) to 503 doctors in the country in late 2007 as grants for research programmes, the Xinhua state news agency reported. According to the Xinhua report, the Beijing municipal health bureau is working with disciplinary authorities to determine whether the clinical programmes listed under these research grants actually had patient names and medical reports associated with them.
Last week, the drugmaker said it was taking the allegations published in the Chinese newspaper 21st Century Business Herald "very seriously," adding that it "is confident [in] our business operations in China" and has "zero-tolerance to any unethical practice." CEO Chris Viehbacher stated earlier this month that the company's office in Shenyang was visited on July 29 by China's State Administration for Industry and Commerce, but that the reason for the visit was unclear.
Recent Chinese investigations into alleged bribery and over-pricing in the pharmaceutical industry have focused on GlaxoSmithKline, but other companies, including UCB, AstraZeneca and Novo Nordisk, have also reported visits from authorities to their China offices.
For more information on sales practices in China, see Inside China’s Pharma Sales Force – insights from the frontline.
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