US drug company Eli Lilly said Thursday it was
"deeply concerned" about newspaper allegations its Chinese managers
paid bribes to doctors.
The Chinese newspaper 21st Century Business Herald reported earlier Thursday that Lilly paid doctors about 30 million yuan (4.9 million dollars) to prescribe its drugs between 2011 and 2012.
"A variety of bribes and special payments were very common at the company," the paper quoted a former senior manager as saying.
A Lilly statement quoted in the paper said that if true, the alleged practices were entirely contrary to the company's values żżand policies.
The company's code of ethics tells employees to "never bribe or offer, provide, or authorize any inappropriate, non-transparent, or disguised incentive (or create the appearance of doing so) to obtain or retain business or any improper advantage."
Following allegations of widespread corruption in the Chinese health system, the country's authorities are paying particularly close attention to international drug producers active in China's lucrative, fast-growing pharmaceuticals market.
In July, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) admitted its top Chinese managers had been involved in a corruption scandal. Four were jailed.
Investigators accused British-based GSK of using intermediaries in travel agencies and consulting firms to pay about 3 billion yuan in bribes to doctors, hospital staff and senior government officials.
Founded in 1876, Indianapolis, Indiana-based Lilly was the first company to mass-produce polio vaccine and insulin and discovered antibiotic erythromycin and cancer drug vincristine. It employs 38,000 people and sells its products in 125 countries.
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