GSK And The British Establishment: How Deep Does The Corruption Go?

Quite deep it seems..

I have been drawing attention to this for several years, however it’s great to see the mainstream slowly wakening up…

Drugs Scandal: Under the Influence

Friday 25th
posted by Morning Star in Britain

The well-connected people on the board of GlaxoSmithKline did not stop a series of bribery scandals, writes SOLOMON HUGHES

BBC’s Panorama dedicated last week’s show to exposing how big British drug firms like GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) regularly made bribes and other payments to doctors to encourage them to prescribe their pills.

It was a good show, but didn’t say how deeply the British Establishment was implicated in these corrupt practices.

All the time GSK was involved in the bribery and questionable payments, they were directed by a board that included James Murdoch, son of Rupert, and Chris Gent, a Tory donor and adviser to David Cameron.

As Panorama revealed, GSK is facing charges of bribing doctors to prescribe their medicines in Poland between 2010 and 2012.

As readers of my column know, this is one of many doctor-bribing charges faces by GSK — Chinese authorities accused GSK of using a network of middlemen and travel agents to pay doctors to prescribe their drugs in a £2 billion scheme between 2007 and the present.

GSK admitted some of its Chinese executives had misbehaved. The Chinese case is ongoing.

GSK is also investigating claims that in 2012 it paid 16 state-employed doctors and pharmacists in Iraq to act as sales representatives.

These are all allegations, but there is a very strong reason to believe they are true.

In 2012 GSK agreed to pay a $3 billion (£1.7 billion) fine in the US for the illegal promotion of prescription medicine, including bribing doctors.

The Philadelphia Inquirer bluntly described GSK’s behaviour as “organised crime.” Its scams included entertaining doctors and paying them “advisory fees” to persuade them to prescribe drugs.

GSK also tried to get drugs prescribed for conditions not approved by regulators, like selling anti-depressants as slimming aids.

The charges also included fraudulent pricing of drugs to cheat Medicaid, the US healthcare scheme for the poor.

So the firm itself, and regulators, are taking the Chinese, Polish and Iraqi bribery charges seriously. If it did that kind of thing in the heavily regulated US, it seems likely it would have been as reckless elsewhere.

Fish rot from the head. If GSK was up to no good, its leadership must take responsibility.

This leadership are not anonymous bureacrats, they are men at the heart of the British Establishment.

For the past 10 years Sir Christopher Gent has been chairman of GSK. In 2009 David Cameron announced Gent would sit on the  Tory leader’s personal “economic recovery committee.”

Gent is a long-term Tory activist who has given the Conservative Party around £110,000.

From 2009 to 2012 GSK had a new director looking at the firm’s ethics — James Murdoch.  Announcing his appointment in February 2009, Sir Chris said he was “delighted to welcome James to the board of GSK.

His experience of global business, marketing and communications will bring a unique and alternative perspective to the board.

“He will also be an excellent addition to the board’s corporate responsibility committee, an area where he has shown particular leadership at BSkyB and News Corporation.”

So thanks to James Murdoch’s ethical leadership at NewsCorp, he was put onto the companies corporate responsibility committee — which would deal with issues of irresponsible behaviour, like, er bribery.

Murdoch quietly slipped off the board in 2012 “to focus on his current duties” at NewsCorp — duties which needed a lot of focus because of the scandal over payments to officials by News International staff.

Last week I said the British establishment was a bit like the Belgian thriller Salamander.

In this TV show, a top cop Paul Gerardi stumbles onto a secret organisation called Salamander, bringing politicians, businessmen and security officials together around a private bank.

A senator’s wife explains that Salamander is “a sort of interest group. They arrange appointments to high office [and] ensure each other’s companies win government contracts.”

The difference between the real Britain and fictional Belgium is our corporations buy friendship with politicians in the open.

Instead of having to run a conspiracy in secret, they just rely on their corporate takeover of politics being ignored.


Will GSK Withdraw From China Altogether? How Much Will China Fine GSK For Bribery? Will Mark Reilly Sing Like a Canary?


The current GSK China-gate scandal (which involved a massive 500 million dollar bribery network spanning hundreds of individuals across China) is fast becoming like something straight from a John Le Carre spy novel.

It looks like the Chinese authorities intend to prosecute-  the former GSK head of their Chinese division- Mark Reilly. He could technically face life in prison for what the Chinese claim to be, an extensive bribery network directed by Reilly, involving hundreds of millions of dollars, and several hundred people (including drug reps, Chinese GSK executives, doctors, fake travel agencies, and prostitutes). It will be interesting to see if the Chinese do send Reilly to prison, but what will be even more interesting is- who was above Reilly? and were they directing, or ordering him, to set up this bribery network, which apparently has been in place since around 2009. Will Reilly do a plea bargain with the Chinese authorities, and in return for lesser sentencing, perhaps he will expose others further up the food chain? Only time will tell.

At the moment all we have is speculation, but it is intriguing speculation nonetheless. Another interesting aspect of this China-gate drama is the matter of GSK and their future in China. It has been rumored that, as a result of this Chinese bribery scandal, and a loss of Chinese profits, that GSK might decide to abandon China altogether. Personally, I would be shocked if GSK decide to abandon China altogether – but it will be interesting to see how this saga all unfolds…

 “GSK is rumored to withdraw completely from the Chinese market.  Although GSK denied this rumor, it nonetheless withdrew from RDPAC (i.e., The China Association of Enterprises with Foreign Investment R&D-basedPharmaceutical Association Committee).  In response to why GSK withdrew from RDPAC, GSK explained that it is the concern of GSK that the ongoing investigation of the Chinese government might impact the operation of RDPAC, and the withdrawal is voluntary”

There has also been speculation that the Chinese intend to fine GSK up to 3Billion dollars for their crimes in China. This figure would echo their previous fine for over 3 Billion by the US authorities in 2012. Although it sounds like a massive fine, and to the mere mortal it is astronomical, to a drug company like GSK, a few billion in fines has always been just the cost of doing business, therefore I suspect they will view their Chinese fine in the same way. Despite being clearly one of the most corrupt and fraudulent international companies in the world, in their home country of Britain, GSK are treated like royalty. They operate above the law because they are the UK cash- cow, they are long established as a major UK corporation, and they even have the backing and support of the UK prime minister, David Cameron, and George Osborne, the UK Chancellor. It will be interesting to see if the downfall of Mark Reilly (and who he might decide to bring down with him) changes that scenario… stay tuned.

For more on GSK, Mark Reilly and China-gate, check out some of these recent posts from award winning blogger, Bob Fiddaman, of Seroxat Sufferers.

This is his latest one:

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

I’m Just a Blogger – Here’s GSK Served on Prawn Crackers

GSK’s Mark Reilly faces up to 10 years in prison

Thought I’d give my take on GSK and the recent [ahem] bribery scandals in various parts of the world. I say ‘my take’ because it’s something that GSK or their highly paid attorney’s can’t ‘take’ from me. It’s mine and I wish to share it.

So, news today that Chinese officials have charged the former British boss of GSK’s China operations.

And what have they accused him of?

Well, nothing out of the ordinary [by GSK’s standards that is]

Mark Reilly fled China when the going got tough. He later returned, not as a goodwill gesture – he returned because the Chinese police wished to interview him, a result of which saw him arrested then, some months later, charged with offences relating to bribery.

GlaxoSmithKline CEO, Andrew Witty, has kept quiet since his initial statement he made midway through last year. He claimed that neither he or GSK HQ in the UK knew anything about the corrupt practices occurring in their China branch.

So news today that has implicated a British employee who has been charged with corporate bribery, bribing non-government officials and bribing business units should force some kind of statement from Witty. Alas, he remains tight-lipped.

Are we expected to believe that Mark Reilly, upon his initial return to the UK in July 2013, lied to Andrew Witty?

10 days into the investigation and GSK’s head of operations in China, who at this point fled the country, is replaced by someone else. Who smelled the rat, or was this just standard procedure when an employee from GSK is under investigation?

Reilly has enjoyed an illustrious career at GSK. He joined them in 1989, 5 years later, in 1994, he became Finance Director, Discovery Research, WWR&D before moving on to become Assistant Corporate Controller, Corporate Finance, a position that lasted 2 years.

In 1999 he became Vice President Finance UK Pharmaceuticals, this lasted for just over 4 years before he decided to try his hand abroad.

From 2003 to 2006 Reilly was based in Singapore, his title, Vice President Finance, Asia Pacific.

He returned to the UK to take up the position of Senior Vice President, International Finance – this lasted just 2 years before Reilly was, once again, jet-setting.

Between January 2009 – January 2010 he was General Manager, China Pharmaceuticals. In February 2010 he added Hong Kong to his title – thus becoming General Manager, China Pharmaceuticals and HK.

So, where exactly did it go wrong for Reilly?

Was he just a bad egg in a company who have always played things by the book?

Was he the runt of the litter?

Was he just a rogue employee who went off the rails because of a personal greed?

Or is this simply a culture at GSK?

It was early in his career at GSK, 1994, that Reilly was introduced into the world of finance. From that point Reilly seems to have made a very rapid climb up the promotional ladder at GSK.

Reilly has a BSc, Medical Sciences, he has a PhD, Pharmacology/Neurosciences – strangely, between 1987 – 1989 he added an ACA in Business, Finance and Accounting to his list of honours. The ACA qualification is one of the most advanced learning and professional development programmes available.

Safe to assume then that Reilly was no mug.

We can see from a 2010 presentation given by Reilly that a goal of GSK was to gain more sales of its respiratory drugs in China.

In fact page 12 of his presentation pretty much spells it out for us all. [Fig 1]

“Respiratory market is a major opportunity”

Fig 1
Let’s look at when news of the Chinese scandal first broke.

According to interviews published by Xinhua, the official state-run news agency, several GSK employees have confessed to bribing doctors with gifts, travel, lecture fees and cash bonuses to persuade them to prescribe more of the company’s drugs.

A man surnamed Li, who is a regional sales manager at GSK China in central China’s Henan Province, said that salespersons at the company received special training on sales skills and methods, especially how to maintain relations with hospitals and doctors, Xinhua reports.

The man, who is in charge of selling respiratory drugs to more than 10 hospitals in the province’s capital city Zhengzhou, added that salespersons established good personal relations with doctors by catering to their pleasures or offering them money, in order to make them prescribe more drugs. [Source]

 “Respiratory market is a major opportunity”

A doctor from a “reputable hospital” whose real name was not given, claimed that one GSK representative had “blatantly offered kickbacks to doctors”.

“For example, 20 yuan [£2.11] for each pack of Seretide, an asthma-treating inhaler; and 10 yuan [£1.05] for each dose of Flixotide, an asthma-treating spray.”

If a doctor appeared reluctant to accept cash, GSK “salespeople” would offer them “gifts, free travel after meetings and lecture fees.”

“In fact, many doctors received lecture fees even when the lectures did not exist,” Xinhua reported. [Source]

Seretide is a drug manufactured and marketed by GSK, a drug used in the treatment of…you’ve guessed it, respiratory problems. It’s also the same drug that Reilly referred to in his 2010 presentation [Fig 1]

“Less than 1m current patients on Seretide”

What better way to increase the number of patients on Seretide than to offer cash incentives to doctor’s who prescribe it!

Putting the Chinese scandal aside for just one moment. Let’s just focus on a BBC Panorama programme that aired a few weeks ago in the UK.

Panorama’s ‘Who’s paying your doctor?‘ saw investigative journalist Shelley Jofre unearth new evidence that Glaxo were pretty much doing the same thing in Poland.

Jarek Wisniewiski, who worked as a sales rep for GSK Poland for eight years told Panorama that in 2010, he worked on a marketing programme across Poland to promoteSeretide. He said that, on paper, money was provided for educating patients about the drug but claims it was, in reality, paying doctors to prescribe more of the medicine. He added…

“I pay for education and in the same meeting I said that I need more prescriptions for Seretide. So … they knew exactly for what I pay.” [Source]

So, how did we get from one illegal promotional push of Seretide in China to another illegal promotional push of Seretide in Poland. The two countries are miles apart.

Was an executive decision made that “We should do as the Chinese do” or was it merely a coincidence that GSK Poland was operating in pretty much the same way as GSK China?

One drug pushed illegally in two different countries and Glaxo’s CEO knew nothing about it?

Back in July 2013 a Glaxo spokesperson claimed that…

“We take all allegations of bribery and corruption seriously. We continuously monitor our businesses to ensure they meet our strict compliance procedures. We have done this in China and found no evidence of bribery or corruption of doctors or government officials.” [Source]

Exactly who is it at GSK that monitor its businesses to ensure they meet their strict compliance procedures?

Why hasn’t this person/persons been hauled over the coals for failing to join the dots with regard to the bribery that was, seemingly rife, in China?

Thing is, and this has been evident throughout the years with GlaxoSmithKline, they are a company – any wrong-doing by an employee is covered up and it’s left to outside investigators to try and find the culprit, the man/woman who ‘pushed the button’, so to speak.

It’s only when the outside investigation pinpoints the ring leaders that we have Glaxo come out and say how shocked they are and that they will do everything in their power to help the investigation.

This is when GSK become transparent, they do so not of their own freewill, they do so because their hand has been forced by the strong arm of the law. However, they do it in such a way that dupes the general public into believing that they have always been as transparent as ever.

Think about it. If GSK were transparent they wouldn’t have had so many lawsuits filed against them. Lawsuits are only filed because GSK initially deny charges brought against them. In law, GSK don’t want to have to admit to anything because it sets a precedence – this is why we see them time and time again settle cases brought against them out of court – when a case is settled they get those who brought the claims against them to sign confidentiality agreements – in essence these agreements state that GSK accept no liability of the charges made against them.

China is a different kettle of fish though. Legal experts are suggesting that GSK’s Mark Reilly could face up to 10 years in prison. Let’s hope it’s not Beijing’s Municipal Prison.

Troy Bremer, an Australian found guilty of fraud, spent a number of years at Beijing’s Municipal Prison. “The officers destroy your body, mind, heart and spirit”, he told theSydney Herald in an exclusive interview back in 2013.

Heaven forbid that Reilly gets sentenced to 10 years in a hell hole such as Beijing’s Municipal Prison. Whatever he’s done it does not warrant such abuse.

Hopefully Reilly will see sense and try to cut a deal. The most obvious ‘Get out of jail card’ he could play would be to name names, to tell the authorities he did what he did because he was told to by senior executives.

I mean, why protect the scum that has left him out to dry?

Bob Fiddaman


GSK are ‘very decent’ according to UK Prime Minister David Cameron

“All I’ll say is that from all my dealings with GSK I know that they are a very important, very decent and strong British business that is a long-term investor in China and it’s a business that very much does think about the long-term development of its products and its businesses,” he said.”

Simply astounding comments by David Cameron in his defense of GSK in China. It seems a bit pathetic in my opinion- that GSK need to get the UK prime minister to give them a character reference.

He’s only short of breaking into morris dancing, leaping into a silly-walk or blurting out three hail mary’s and a bloody novena.

You couldn’t make this shit up… 

It’s all very python-esque methinks..


(Apparently the bribing of Chinese doctors by GSK has been going on since 2007)

Cameron defends GSK’s business practices in China


SHANGHAI Tue Dec 3, 2013 10:03pm GMT

British Prime Minister David Cameron gestures as he delivers a speech to students during his trip in China at Shanghai Jiao Tong University in Shanghai, December 3, 2013. REUTERS/China Daily

British Prime Minister David Cameron gestures as he delivers a speech to students during his trip in China at Shanghai Jiao Tong University in Shanghai, December 3, 2013.


(Reuters) – British Prime Minister David Cameron on Tuesday mounted a robust defence of GlaxoSmithKline’s business practices in China – where it is being investigated for alleged bribery – calling the firm “very decent”.

Cameron’s intervention came a day after he raised GSK’s situation with China’s top leadership in a move one person familiar with the conversation said was designed to draw a line under the company’s woes and ensure it was treated fairly.

Cameron is on a trade promotion trip to China with around 100 executives, including GSK Chief Executive Andrew Witty, and is trying to help the firm grapple with the aftermath of accusations it funnelled up to 3 billion yuan ($492 million) to travel agencies to facilitate bribes to boost its drug sales.

The claims are the most serious against a multinational in China in years. Police detained four Chinese GSK executives as well as Peter Humphrey, a British man running a risk advisory group. He is still being held.

Cameron on Tuesday gave reporters what amounted to a strong character reference for GSK, making it clear he was happy to fight its corner.

“All I’ll say is that from all my dealings with GSK I know that they are a very important, very decent and strong British business that is a long-term investor in China and it’s a business that very much does think about the long-term development of its products and its businesses,” he said.

“I think it is right to raise a case like that. Britain has a record of properly standing up for British businesses and British individuals, raising individual cases in the right way and about having a proper dialogue with the Chinese authorities about the issues.”

The person familiar with the matter said Britain had detected a softening in China’s position, saying it had encouraged GSK’s Witty to join Cameron in China.

Witty himself has declined to comment on the investigation into alleged illegal payments by GSK to doctors and officials, but told Reuters in Beijing on Monday that the British drugmaker would have something to say “quite soon”.

GSK is Britain’s largest pharmaceuticals business and a major employer of skilled workers, including many scientists. Witty has advised Cameron on business matters in the past and recently wrote a report on universities for the government.

The scandal has tarnished the image of both GSK and its CEO, who has sworn to get to the bottom of any wrongdoing.

GSK’s sales in China dived 61 percent in the third quarter after hospital staff shunned visits by its sales teams in the wake of the investigation.

Legal and industry sources told Reuters last month that police were likely to charge some of GSK’s Chinese executives but not the company itself. One person with direct knowledge of the situation said the police investigation was likely to be concluded by around early December.

GSK has said some of its senior Chinese executives appear to have broken the law. It has also said it has zero tolerance for bribery, calling the allegations in China “shameful”.

GSK sold 759 million pounds ($1.2 billion) of pharmaceuticals and vaccines in China in 2012, up 17 percent on 2011, representing about 3.5 percent of its worldwide total.

GSK: “Godfather” of Corporate Crime Andrew Witty And UK Prime Minister David Cameron Cosy Up In China

Gao Feng, head of the economic crimes investigation unit at the Ministry of Public Security, said in July: “From our investigation, bribery is part of the strategy of this company. This is why they have bribery activities in China.”

GSK CEO Andrew Witty Joins David Cameron In China Amid Bribery Probe

The Huffington Post UK  |  By Posted: 02/12/2013 11:06 GMT  |  Updated: 02/12/2013 11:13 GMT

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David Cameron may risk diplomatic tensions by bringing Sir Andrew Witty, CEO of GlaxoSmithKline on his trade mission to China, while the pharmaceuticals giant is under investigation amid accusations that it acted as the criminal “godfather” of a massive bribery network.

GlaxoSmithKline’s Chinese wing, which employs 7,000 people, was put under investigation in July over allegations that it acted as the “ringleader” in a bribery network that channelled up to three billion yuan (£303 million) to hospitals, doctors and officials to boost its drug sales. Police detained four GSK executives in China as part of the investigation.

Gao Feng, head of the economic crimes investigation unit at the Ministry of Public Security, said in July: “From our investigation, bribery is part of the strategy of this company. This is why they have bribery activities in China.”

“They used travel agents as a money platform. But I must make it clear that among these partners, GSK is the main party responsible. It is like a criminal organisation, there is always a boss. In this game, GSK is the godfather.”

Sir Andrew Witty, GSK chief executive and part of the Prime Minister’s business advisory group, sent his head of emerging markets, Abbas Hussain, to manage GSK’s response. The probe could conclude as soon as this month.

The probe caused sales in the country to fall by 61%, leading Witty to blame Chinese media for whipping up “an anxiety which has led to some disruption in the business”. GSK sold £759 million of pharmaceuticals and vaccines in China in 2012, up 17% on 2011, comprising around 3.5% of the group’s total.

In response to the allegations, Sir Andrew said: “The activities described by the authorities are very serious and totally unacceptable. They are contrary to our values and to everything I believe in. We very clearly recognise there is a profound need to earn the trust of Chinese people again. We will take every action to do so.

“We continue to fully co-operate with the authorities and respect the progress of the investigation. As such there is very little further I can say.”

GSK : Their Corrupted Slithery Tentacles Creep All The Way To Downing Street, Whitehall and Buckingham Palace

GSK Boss Witty To Quit His Whitehall Role
Drugs giant tells Sky News Sir Andrew Witty’s exit will come at the end of his term and is unrelated to ongoing problems in China.

2:07pm UK, Wednesday 17 July 2013
A Chinese national flag flutters in front of a GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) office building in ShanghaiGSK says its boss’ planned Whitehall exit is not related to issues in China

By Mark Kleinman, City Editor

Sir Andrew Witty, the chief executive of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), is to step down later this year from a key Whitehall post that has seen him become one of the coalition’s most influential business advisorsSky News has learnt that Sir Andrew, who is embroiled in the biggest crisis of his leadership at the drugs giant amid allegations of a massive bribery scandal in China, will quit his role in December as the lead independent director on the board of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). GSK said on Wednesday that his exit was unrelated to the China kickbacks probe or any other external issue, and that it was solely because his term would be expiring

GlaxoSmithKline Chief Executive Andrew Witty poses with his medal after being honoured with a Knighthood by Prince Charles
GSK boss Sir Andrew Witty after receiving a knighthood from Prince Charles

“Andrew has very much enjoyed his time as the lead non-executive at BIS. He is looking forward to publishing his review into universities and growth later this year. His three-year term at BIS is due to finish at the end of the year so, as planned, he will be stepping down,” a GSK spokesman said.

Sir Andrew was among dozens of business leaders appointed to the boards of Whitehall departments in December 2010 as part of an initiative aimed at bringing broader commercial expertise into Government.

At the time, the duration of the appointments was not made clear by the Cabinet Office, which co-ordinated the initiative, and it is thought that many of the directors will remain in their non-executive roles in order to provide continuity.

The departure of Sir Andrew at the end of his term avoids a potential embarrassment given his proximity to the department of government responsible for business policy.

He is understood not to have been put under pressure to step down by Vince Cable, the Business Secretary.

Sir Andrew has become one of David Cameron’s closest allies in the business community, outlining plans to return part of GSK’s research and development budget to the UK in the wake of new measures relating to the taxation of intellectual property.

He also serves as a member of the Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Group.

Lord Browne speaks at an Advancing Enterprise conference in London.
The former BP boss Lord Browne

The GSK chief is fighting fires on several fronts, with allegations made by Chinese authorities in recent days that the company used travel agencies as a front to bribe doctors and other health officials to buy more of its drugs at higher prices.

GSK has said it will co-operate with the inquiry and has “zero tolerance” of such conduct.

Media reports suggested that Steve Nechelput, the finance director of GSK’s Chinese operations, had been banned from leaving the country.

GSK also faces a headache closer to home after being accused by the Office of Fair Trading in April of abusing its “dominant position” in the market for supplies of one of the UK’s leading antidepressant medicines.

The drive to bring more businesspeople into Whitehall has had mixed results, although Sky News understands that Lord Browne, the former boss of BP, has been persuaded to stay on as the overall lead non-executive despite indicating that he was likely to step down.