Glaxo chief rising above bribery crisis engulfing pharma giant in China
PUBLISHED: 21:37 GMT, 24 July 2013 | UPDATED: 21:37 GMT, 24 July 2013
Glaxo’s chief executive has sought to distance himself from bribery allegations engulfing the pharma giant in China.
Sir Andrew Witty was speaking for the first time since it emerged some of his senior executives allegedly bribed doctors and officials with money and offered to arrange sexual trysts.
He said he had delegated responsibility to a senior colleague, Abbas Hussain, because he had to focus on other things.Danger signs: Sir Andrew Witty insists the pharma giant will ‘do the right thing’ in the Far East
Witty, said: ‘I take this very seriously but the organisation has to do a lot of things beyond focus on China.
‘My job is to ensure that we do the right things in China…and that we continue to deliver all of the other activities which need to be achieved in the company.’
China accounts for 3 per cent of annual sales worth around £1billion.
Witty acknowledged the allegations were ‘shameful’ and said: ‘I am personally very disappointed.’ He said he had not visited the country and would only go when ‘it is the right moment’.
He has dispatched Hussain, the leader of his European and emerging markets business, to spearhead the ‘day-to-day response’.
Witty said it was too early to start thinking about gestures such as forgoing his bonus.
‘Where I think we need to be focused is to make sure that we are working with the authorities to get to the truth of what has happened,’ he said.
‘Once we have understood that, then obviously those consequences need to be considered.’
Witty also used a third-quarter update, in which profits fell, to warn the scandal would hurt performance.
Glaxo’s management team in China has been left in disarray by police allegations that they are looking at payments up to £319million to travel agencies to facilitate bribes to doctors and officials. Glaxo has appointed an American law firm to carry out an independent review of its Chinese systems.
The firm has admitted some Chinese executives appeared to have broken the law and says it has been liaising with regulators including the Serious Fraud Office. Glaxo has also been in contract with the Government through the Foreign Office.
Witty said the investigation ‘appeared to be focused on a number of senior managers who have been operating outside of our processes, potentially defrauding GSK and also at the same time allegedly doing some things in the market place which are clearly inappropriate and illegal’.
The allegations overshadowed the first signs a pipeline of new drugs could transform performance. Core second-quarter profit fell to £1.943billion from £1.979billion. The shares rose 13p to 1681p.