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GSK's Botox sales in China under scrutiny says WSJ

Newspaper says it has reviewed company documents that discuss giving kickbacks to doctors to prescribe Botox

GSK GlaxoSmithKline house

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is investigating claims that some of its sales representatives in China acted improperly in the promotion of Botox, according to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ).

GSK has already been under investigation following allegations from an anonymous source that the company's sales staff offered bribes to Chinese doctors to prescribe drugs, in some cases for off-label uses.

The latest claims are said to come from the same source, with the WSJ saying it has reviewed internal GSK documents that discuss giving cash incentives and other kickbacks to doctors to prescribe Botox (onabotulinumtoxinA) under a programme said to be known as 'Vasily'.

Local sales managers also instructed sales reps to discuss the Botox marketing programme using personal email addresses rather than work emails, according to the paper. GSK has sold Botox in China under license from Allergan since 2005.

A GSK spokesman told the newspaper that it was investigating the new claims, but had so far found no evidence of bribery or corruption in relation to sales and marketing of Botox in China. He also maintained that the Vasily programme "didn't contain anything untoward" and in fact was never implemented.

GSK concluded its own internal probe of the earlier allegations last month but said it had found no evidence of wrongdoing. Meanwhile, it emerged earlier this month that police in the south-central Chinese city of Changsha were questioning GSK staff about 'economic crimes', although at the moment it is unclear whether this is related to the bribery allegations.

News of the latest probe comes shortly after China's government launched an inquiry into the production and distribution costs and prices of medicines sold on the domestic market, focusing on multinationals such GSK, Astellas, Baxter, Boehringer Ingelheim and Merck & Co as well as domestic producers like Sinopharm Group and Jiangsu Hengrui Medicine.

9th July 2013

From: Sales

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