Posted on Friday 19 September 2014
Pharmalot: WSJby Ed SilvermanSeptember 19, 2014
After months of anticipation, a Chinese court found the GlaxoSmithKline subsidiary in China guilty of bribing doctors, hospital officials and other non-government personnel, and fined the drug maker more than $490 million, The Wall Street Journal reports. This becomes the largest such penalty levied on a company in China. At the same time, Mark Reilly, the former head of the Glaxo unit in China, pleaded guilty to bribery-related charges and was given a three-year suspended sentence. There are varying reports, however, whether he will be deported or required to remain during that time. Four other senior Glaxo managers in China also received suspended sentences of between two and four years…
The court decisions cap a tumultuous episode for Glaxo, which was already struggling to restore its image and revamp business practices in the wake of a $3 billion settlement with U.S. authorities two years ago. The drug maker had been accused of failing to disclose clinical trial data for certain medicines and improperly marketing drugs, among other things.
Andrew Witty, the Glaxo chief executive, issued a brief statement: “Reaching a conclusion in the investigation of our Chinese business is important, but this has been a deeply disappointing matter for GSK. We have and will continue to learn from this. GSK has been in China for close to a hundred years and we remain fully committed to the country and its people.” [here is the official apology, too]…Glaxo previously acknowledged investigating claims employees bribed doctors in Poland, Iraq, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon. Meanwhile, the FBI and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission are probing its activities in China. As part of a probe into the pharmaceutical industry, U.S. authorities have been eyeing its overseas dealings since 2010 for possible violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. And the U.K.’s Serious Fraud Office is also conducting an investigation…
Lest you are feeling sorry for Sir Andrew Witty and GlaxoSmithKline, you might want to check out this bio from Forbes with his 2012 Financials:
|Sir Andrew Witty, 31 January 2008 and as Chief Executive Officer on 21 May 2008. Sir Andrew joined GSK in 1985. He has worked in the UK, South Africa, the USA and Singapore in various senior roles. In 2003, he was appointed President of GSK Europe and joined GSK’s Corporate Executive Team. In 2003 he was awarded the Public Service Medal by the Government of Singapore and in August 2012 was also awarded the Public Service Star. In the 2012 New Year Honours list, he was awarded a Knighthood for services to the economy and to the UK pharmaceutical industry. He served as the Lead Non-Executive Board member for the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills to December 2013. He was also President of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations until July 2013.
|All other compensation||$49,000|
|Non-equity incentive plan compensation||$1,905,000|
And if you’re a stickler for dates, you might notice that his Presidency of the EFPIA [European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations] ended in July 2013 which happens to be right after the damning leaked memo [a closing argument…, in the shadows…] outlining their plan to undermine the EMA [European Medicines Agency] Data Transparency efforts [which may have succeeded] [see abuzz over there…, a coup d’état…].
It is worth noting that Witty has now spent half of his six-year tenure trying to overhaul business practices, and has still more fines and investigations to show for his efforts. Granted, cultural differences require varying approaches to success around the world, and Glaxo is not the only drug maker facing this challenge. But Glaxo is now something of a poster child for scandal.
Witty has made headway in other areas. In particular, he has won kudos for his push to make clinical trial data more readily accessible to researchers, a move that has helped Glaxo deflect much of the criticism leveled at the pharmaceutical industry otherwise. In trying to resolve this highly contentious issue, he placed himself and Glaxo in a leadership position. And Witty is cutting ties between compensation for sales reps and the number of prescriptions that doctors write for Glaxo drugsWhether he emerges unscathed by the latest developments in China – and unfolding events elsewhere – remains to be seen, of course. But Witty may need to have Glaxo executives practice some of the self-criticism that Chinese Communist Party leaders preach as a path toward rehabilitation.