GSK uses Xi's U.K. tour to polish image as countries sign healthcare deals

China's President Xi Jinping

Britain's GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) is using the tour of the country by China's President Xi Jinping to polish its tarnished image in the Middle Kingdom while other healthcare companies have signed more than $3 billion in deals in areas like oncology imaging and doctor training.

GSK was hit by a massive $489 million fine in 2014 after the pharma giant was accused in 2013 of bribing doctors to favor its treatments. The company's CEO, Andrew Witty, told the China Daily in London the company has implemented a "new commercial model and incentive system" that is "in step with the expectations of the Chinese government" and that the company learned from its mistakes during the "sad and disappointing experience."

Witty told the China Daily that the company can now monitor its sales teams to prevent any bribery.

GSK CEO Andrew Witty

As part of its efforts to get back in the good graces of Chinese officials, Witty also joined the recently formed, 30-member panel of the China-Britain Business Council, the company announced this week.

"We've made it clear to the doctors in China about our changes and have spent a great deal of time to explain to them the reasons for us making the changes," Witty told the China Daily.

GSK also said this week it will invest $3 million in a 3-year deal with the National Health and Family Planning Commission of China to train 7,000 Chinese doctors in hepatitis B treatments, the China Daily reported.

Other deals that made the news this week as Xi tours the country include an agreement between Beijing's United Imaging and the UK's Cerno for oncology imaging technology and a deal between King's College London, Glasgow Caledonian University and training company Annie Barr to train 150,000 doctors and 2 million nurses over the next 5 years in Beijing, Shanghai, Nanjing, Shenzhen and Chengdu.

George Freeman, Britain's minister for life sciences, told the British news website BDaily that "with a population of more than one billion and a rapidly developing economy, China is set to become the world's fastest growing healthcare market."

Freeman also told BDaily that the collaborations announced during Xi's visit "show how Chinese and UK organizations recognize each other's potential" and the deals will help "support both UK economic growth and the sustainable development of emerging economies."

- here's the story from China Daily
- and one from BDaily