One of GlaxoSmithKline’s top executives in China was filmed in a bedraggled state “confessing” to bribery claims at Britain’s biggest drugmaker on Chinese state TV.
Chinese police have accused the pharmaceuticals giant of being a “criminal godfather” and “ringleader” in a bribery scandal involving payments of 3bn yuan (£321m) to doctors and hospitals over the past six years, and arrested four GSK managers.
Liang Hong, GSK’s vice president of operations in China, appeared on one of the country’s flagship news programmes, unshaven and with dark shadows under his eyes, where he said: “Having spent time reflecting over the past couple of days, I think the money we spent to run our business was too much.
“All of these costs [of our bribery] were included in the price of the drugs. The money we spent running the business accounted for about 20 per cent to 30 per cent of the drug price.”
He said GSK had worked with Chinese travel agencies to host conferences for as many as 2000 people, with the events budgeted to cost more than 10m yuan, but claimed Glaxo executives had inflated those costs, then creamed off some of the excess cash to pay bribes to doctors and middlemen, with some kickbacks also retained by GSK executives.
Chinese officials claim that pushed up medicine prices in the country.
GSK declined to comment but has said: “We are reviewing all third-party agency relationships.”