Polish prosecutors said on Monday they have extended a probe into allegations that British pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) bribed doctors into promoting one of its drugs.
The company also faces a bribery probe in China and last week announced it was investigating alleged corruption by staff at its pharmaceuticals division in Iraq.
“Thirteen people, including a GSK representative and 12 doctors, have been charged in this investigation, which we opened in February 2012 and extended to June 30, 2014,” said Jacek Pakula, a spokesman for prosecutors in Lodz, Poland.
He said that the events in question date back to 2010 through 2012 and that all of the charged individuals remain free, before refusing any further comment.
However, according to a BBC report over the weekend, the company is alleged to have bribed doctors to prescribe its asthma drug in the Lodz region.
GSK confirmed in a statement released on Monday that a company “investigation found evidence of inappropriate communication in contravention of GSK policy by a single employee.”
The employee, who has since been disciplined, was participating in a Poland-based GSK program relating to respiratory disease that ran from 2010 to 2012, according to the statement.
“We agree there is a need to modernize interactions between the pharmaceutical industry and healthcare professionals to ensure patients’ interests are always put first and to eliminate even a perception of a conflict of interest,” GSK said, adding that it was continuing to investigate the matter.
Last year, GSK admitted that senior employees at its China business appeared to have breached Chinese law, after authorities alleged that employees had bribed government officials, pharmaceutical industry groups, hospitals and doctors to promote sales.
On Monday last week a spokesman for the group announced that it was “investigating allegations of improper conduct in our Iraq business.”
He said GSK was in the process of overhauling how it markets and sells products around the world, changing how it pays its sales representatives and putting an end to the practice of paying doctors to speak on its behalf.