Consumer Drug Safety

GlaxoSmithKline Allegedly Paid Bribes to Polish Doctors

GlaxoSmithKline, one of the largest drug companies in Britain, is facing accusations of bribery and corruption in Poland. This money, set aside to fund patient education programs, was allegedly used to compensate physicians in exchange for more prescriptions.

Whistleblower and former sales representative of GSK, Jarek Wisneiwiski told BBC’s Panorama program that reps were directed by their regional manager to place emphasis on drug sales, specifically the company’s asthma medication Seretide. “I pay for education and in the same meeting I said that I need more prescriptions for Seretide. So, they knew exactly what I pay for,” Wisneiwiski tells BBC.

GSK ran their program, which the company claims was developed to educate patients about asthma dangers, from 2010 to 2012. Sales representatives were instructed to compensate physicians that agreed to give informative sessions regarding ways to improve diagnostic standards and medical training for respiratory diseases, though many never did.

Wisneiwiski claims that the reps paid an agreement of £100 for a speech, or instructional session, that might not take place and expected more than a hundred prescriptions to be written in return. When he spoke out to the company about being unhappy with the program, he was sidelined and eventually fired from his position.

Confirmation of the company’s actions came from another former employee, who wishes to remain anonymous. The Lodz region of Poland public prosecutor found evidence that supports these claims in documents given to doctors in more than a dozen healthcare facilities. Spokesman Kryysztof Kopania stated, “We have enough evidence that in more than a dozen cases it was a camouflaged form of a bride.” Sales representatives never directly stated that they would be compensating physicians however the manipulation and temptation convinced several doctors to comply. One has already come forward and has been fined and given a suspended sentence. His response, “They kept tempting, and I am just a man.”

In the ongoing criminal investigation, one GSK regional manager and eleven physicians have been charged in connection with corruption. Should the allegations be successfully prosecuted, GSK might be found to have violated the UK’s Bribery Act as well as the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Recent accusations of bribery and corruption have greatly impacted the company financially. While their annual turnover hovers around £26 billion, the company is facing millions in charges by Iraq and China for similar situations.

The company used internal and external resources to investigate the matter and found evidence of a single employee responsible for the inappropriate communication in contravention with the company’s policy. This employee has been reprimanded and disciplined for their actions.

Show Sources
  1. http://www.bbc.com/news/business-26970873
  2. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/drugs-giant-glaxosmithkline-bribed-doctors-to-boost-sales-says-whistleblower-9257850.html
  3. http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/apr/14/glaxosmithkline-bribery-allegations-poland
  4. http://www.whistleblowerinfo.com/cases/glaxosmithkline-pays-3-billion-in-massive-drug-settlement.htm