“Any company that doesn’t get whistleblower letters isn’t looking hard enough,” he tells The Financial Times. “If you are not getting anything: don’t dream. It can’t be perfect 100 percent of the time.”
Andrew Witty, Financial Times/WSJ 2014
Regular readers of this blog would be aware that over the last few months a GSK whistle-blower from Yemen contacted me alleging all sorts of unethical shenanigans by some GSK personnel in Yemen (see here). At the moment I cannot publish all that I know however the following is a small update from the whistle-blower:
From GSK Yemen-
Following the Footprint Project, the procedure on the ‘Way of Working in the Footprint market’ has been approved and made effective from the 16th of February 2016 in MENA&CIS, UK, North America, LATAM, and Vaccines.
The SOP which is applicable to all GSK employees and complimentary workers covers the principles relating to all interactions and dealings in the ‘Footprint Markets’, namely Afghanistan, Cuba, Bolivia, Burkana Faso, Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Iraq, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Sudan, Paraguay, South Sudan, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, and Zimbabwe.
About The Footprint Project
Following a review of businesses in countries across the world, and taking into account the social and political situation, GSK has decided to change the way it operates in a small number of countries, to ensure that our business is governed effectively and in accordance with international requirements. As a result, GSK has decided to close its operations and terminate its distribution agreements as far as they relate to the sale of GSK products in the private market and to adopt a new way of working model for the supply of medicines and vaccines in Footprint Markets.
GSK remains committed to provide access to GSK medicines and vaccines to patients in Footprint Markets. GSK remains committed to provide access to GSK medicines and vaccines to patients in footprint markets and will sell or otherwise distribute medicines (as appropriate) to international organizations or directly to governments. GSK will continue to work in partnership with local governments and international organizations to develop health care workers and to support other community health programmes aimed at improving patient access to medicines and healthcare.
From the GSK Whistle-Blower:
“…Closing of 19 markets in 19 countries has been done by Andrew witty just before his retirement.
This decision will deprive patients in needs in these countries of essential GSK medicine since the government or private supranational organizations wouldn’t be able to supply these medicine or purchase them from GSK.
And this decision is opposite to GSK mission rather than the access to medicines.
Instead, GSK could terminate the corruption and maintain the business and the supplying of medicines to these low income patients.
For example what happened in Yemen, instead of terminate the corrupted employees, GSK terminate all employees and distribution agreements with agents to expand the suffering of all Yemeni patients. Question, where is the access to medicines and where is the mission of GSK in light of this decision!
Yemeni government wouldn’t be able to make up the role of local agents in purchasing the medicines from GSK or distribution. The same for supranational organizations…”
I’m surprised that the charity ‘Save The Children‘ hasn’t made a statement about these allegations yet -as they have already been published by Ed Silverman of Pharmalot/WSJ…
By Ed Silverman @Pharmalot
April 14, 2016
GlaxoSmithKline is conducting an internal investigation into allegations that its subsidiary in Yemen hired government employees to influence purchasing decisions and boost sales of its medicines.
Specifically, more than a half-dozen Glaxo employees allegedly have also held various paid positions — such as pharmacists — at the government health ministry. The allegations are similar to those made two years ago concerning its operations in Iraq.
“GSK has received allegations about staff conduct in Yemen and is investigating them thoroughly,” a company spokesman wrote us. He declined further comment.
Last month, Glaxo distributed a notice to its employees in Yemen — who only number about three dozen — that requires them to preserve documents in connection with United States and United Kingdom inquiries into its business practices in various markets. Pharmalot has reviewed a copy of the notice.
The drug maker is currently being investigated by the US Department of Justice and the US Securities and Exchange Commission for potential violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The UK’s Serious Fraud Office is also investigating Glaxo for possible criminal violations of the Bribery Act.
In connection with the US and UK probes, the Glaxo notice mentions that employees must retain documents concerning payments to health care providers and government entities, as well as any “concurrent” employment involving Glaxo personnel.
The notice also required employees in the Yemen subsidiary to preserve documents concerning the Tykerb breast cancer medication, which Glaxo transferred last year to Novartis as part of an asset swap that sent much of the Glaxo oncology business to Novartis in exchange for a vaccines unit.
This is only the latest instance in which Glaxo has conducted an internal probe into business practices in various countries. Over the past two years, the company has also confronted allegations of bribery in Poland, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria.
The most sensational episode, however, occurred three years ago in China, where GlaxoSmithKline was eventually found guilty by a Chinese court of bribing doctors, hospitals, and other nongovernment personnel and fined more than $490 million.
Glaxo is not the only drug maker encountering scrutiny over its business practices in far-flung markets.
After bribery episode, Bristol-Myers overhauls sales practices in China
In recent weeks, Novartis began an internal probe into allegations of bribery in Turkey and its South Korea offices were raided by authorities there. The company also agreed to pay $25 million to settle charges of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by making illegal payments to doctors in China.
And recently, Bristol-Myers Squibb ended payments to doctors in China shortly after agreeing to pay more than $14 million to resolve charges that it violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by making illegal payments to health care providers in the country.