Add it to the list: GSK corruption claims crop up in Yemen

It’s been nearly three years since bribery allegations first pummeled GlaxoSmithKline in China, but the drugmaker still hasn’t been able to keep its name and “corruption” out of the same sentence. Since then, additional claims have popped up in several other countries, and Yemen is the latest to be added to the list.

The company is conducting an internal probe into allegations that its subsidiary in Yemen brought on government workers to influence purchasing decisions and bolster sales of its drugs, Stat reports. On top of that, more than half a dozen employees at the British pharma giant have held paid posts at the government health ministry, as the claims go.

GSK is investigating the allegations “thoroughly,” a spokeswoman told FiercePharma in an emailed statement. The company “welcomes and respects people speaking up where they have concerns and we have a number of channels internally to enable them to do this,” she added.

Whistleblowers have certainly put those channels to good use over the past few years. Ever since July 2013--when Chinese officials pointed the finger at Glaxo for using travel agents to funnel $489 million in bribes to docs and other healthcare providers--allegations have continued to crop up in countries including Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Poland and Romania.

The claims continue to dog the company’s image, despite its attempts to reform its marketing practices. The pharma giant has done away with common practices like sales rep quotas and doctor speaking fees, moves that have drawn criticism of CEO Andrew Witty.

These days, though, shareholders have bigger fish to fry. High-profile investors have been clamoring for a company-wide breakup that Witty has staunchly refused; in the wake of their demands, the company announced recently that its skipper would step down in March of 2017.

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