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SFO launches criminal probe of GSK

GlaxoSmith Kline PLC is under investigation by the UK Serious Fraud Office for possible criminal violations, the pharma said Tuesday.

In a two-sentence statement, UK-based GSK said it had been informed by the SFO of a formal criminal investigation into GSK's commercial practices.

GSK said it was committed to operating its business to the highest ethical standards and will continue to cooperate fully with the SFO.

In July last year, China authorities accused GSK of paying $482 million in bribes to health officials and doctors to boost sales. China's Ministry of Public Security said since 2007 GSK had used 700 travel agents to deliver the illegal payments since 2007. 

Earlier this month, a Ministry of Public Security official arrested Mark Reilly, the British former boss of GSK's China unit, and two Chinese executives, Zhang Guowei and Zhao Hongyan, for offering bribes to hospital personnel and doctors.

All three defendants face up to life in prison.

Outside China, GSK opened an investigation into its sales practices in the Middle East.

In April, the company said it was investigating allegations that it had hired government-employed doctors and pharmacists in Iraq to serve as paid sales reps for its products.

GSK is also investigating alleged bribery of doctors in Jordan and Lebanon.

Polish authorities have also said they are investigating alleged bribery of doctors by GSK representatives.


Julie DiMauro is the executive editor of the FCPA Blog and can be reached here.