Chinese police are investigating British drug firm GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) senior management staff in China for suspected “economic crimes,” according to a statement reported by Chinese state media yesterday.
Police in the central city of Changsha said they were investigating personnel of GlaxoSmithKline (China) Investment Co, the statement said.
Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post newspaper said police had detained company employees in three cities: Changsha, Shanghai and Beijing.
A spokeswoman for the company, which has its China headquarters in Shanghai, declined to comment, saying she was not authorized to speak to overseas media.
Internet postings, which could not be confirmed, said more than 10 police in plainclothes entered the GSK office in Shanghai on Thursday last week and seized account books.
The allegations involve at least one foreign executive employed by the company, said the postings on Chinese microblogs.
The exact nature of the allegations was not specified by Changsha police, but authorities typically use the phrase “economic crimes” when referring to corruption.
It is common practice for Chinese pharmaceutical firms to offer doctors and hospitals bribes to have their products used, industry insiders say.
GSK is one of the largest multinational pharmaceutical companies in China, with total investment of more than US$500 million, according to its Web site.
Last month, the company said data was “misrepresented” in a paper written by scientists at its Chinese research center and published in the journal Nature Medicine in 2010.
GSK sacked one of the people involved and placed three others on administrative leave, while another resigned, it said.