GLAXOSMITHKLINE (GSK) said yesterday it was investigating new allegations that its staff had used improper tactics to market Botox in China, but had so far found no evidence of bribery or corruption.
The move follows a claim that GSK staff allegedly handed doctors cash and other rewards for prescribing Botox treatment, which the British group sells in China under an agreement with patent-holder Allergan.
The latest allegations against GSK, which is already under investigation by Chinese police for unspecified “economic crimes”, were first reported by the Wall Street Journal.
The newspaper said internal documents and email showed GSK’s China sales staff were also apparently instructed to use their personal email addresses to discuss marketing strategies related to Botox.
A GSK spokesman in London said the company believed the new allegations over Botox came from the same source who previously made claims over corruption in China – claims which GSK said earlier it had investigated and found to be without foundation.
“Nevertheless, we are investigating these new claims. However, our inquiries to date have found no evidence of bribery or corruption in relation to our sales and marketing of therapeutic Botox in China,” the spokesman said.
“GSK has some of the toughest compliance procedures in the sector. We are proud of our high standards and operate in accordance with them.”
GSK is responsible for therapeutic sales of Botox in China – for example, to treat facial spasms – rather than as a cosmetic treatment to remove signs of ageing such as wrinkles.