Exclusive: GlaxoSmithKline faces fresh drug bribery claims in Syria

Mon Aug 11, 2014 1:53pm EDT
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By Ben Hirschler

LONDON (Reuters) - GlaxoSmithKline (GSK.L: Quote) faces new allegations that it bribed Syrian doctors and officials to boost sales of its medicines, following recent accusations of corruption in its non-prescription business in the country.

The latest charges are laid out in an anonymous email sent to the company's top managers last week and seen by Reuters.

GSK - one of the few big firms still supplying drugs in Syria - said on Monday it would investigate the new claims involving its own staff and local distributors.

The company added it had suspended relations with its Syrian distributors pending results of the probe.

The attack on the drugmaker's ethical standards follows a series of similar bribery claims against the company in China, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Poland.

Reuters last month reported allegations of corruption in GSK's Syrian consumer business, which sells products including toothpaste and painkillers. The consumer operation was closed in 2012 due to the worsening civil war in the country.

The Syrian prescription pharmaceuticals business remains operational, however, and GSK said it was committed to supplying safe and effective drugs and vaccines to patients in need.

The new corruption claims involve alleged bribes paid to boost sales of various medicines, including ones to treat cancer and to prevent blood clots.   Continued...

The GlaxoSmithKline building is pictured in Hounslow, west London June 18, 2013. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor