GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) is knee-deep in bribery allegations around the world, with accusations surfacing everywhere from Poland to the Middle East that the company engaged in wrongdoing. Now the drugmaker faces new claims in Romania, almost a year after it paid a pretty penny to resolve bribery charges in China.
GSK is looking into claims of improper payments in Romania listed in a whistleblower's email sent to the company's top management, Reuters reports. The whistleblower said the company paid Romanian doctors hundreds, and in one case, thousands, of euros between 2009 and 2012 for prescribing its meds, including prostate drugs Avodart and Duodart and Parkinson's disease treatment Requip, according to a copy of the email seen by the news outlet.
But the accusations don't stop there. GSK is said to have paid doctors to make speeches they didn't actually make, wooed them with multiple international trips and handed them cash under the guise of participating in advisory boards, the email alleges. The claims mentioned in the email cover a period before the company pledged in 2013 to end doctor payments--an effort meant to clean up its tarnished image.
GSK said it would investigate the claims "very thoroughly," but it's not fessing up to any wrongdoing. "We do receive letters of this sort from time to time. We welcome and support the opportunity for people to speak up if they have any concerns," the company said in a statement seen by Reuters. "Sometimes we do find things and we act on it; sometimes our findings do not substantiate the matters being raised."
Meanwhile, the sender of the Romanian email is planning to pass the information to the U.S. Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which is already probing GSK for possible corruption, Reuters reports.
The latest drama comes almost a year after GSK resolved its bribery scandal with China by paying a $489 million fine. A top company exec was also handed a three-year suspended prison sentence as part of the ruling.
|GSK CEO Andrew Witty|
GSK still faces bribery allegations across the globe in countries such as Poland, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Syria. But the company is eager to lay its storied past behind it, with CEO Andrew Witty vowing to end payments to physicians by 2016 through a suite of reforms. While its payments to docs did drop off a bit last year, GSK still shelled out $15 million to U.S. docs promoting its products, Bloomberg reported.
"We expect overall payments to continue decreasing as we continue to implement our new approach to working with healthcare professionals," company spokeswoman Sarah Alspach told the news service earlier this month.
- read the Reuters story
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