GlaxoSmithKline has been fined a record 3 billion yuan ($488.5 million) for bribing doctors. A verdict was handed down by a Chinese court, which also sentenced several of the drugmaker’s executives to up to four years in prison. A court in Changsha, China, found the Chinese branch of the British pharmaceutical company guilty of paying bribes to doctors to boost sales of its products and ordered it to pay the biggest fine ever imposed by a Chinese court.
Separately, the London-based multinational pharmaceutical and biotechnology company is facing a number of allegations of unethical behavior by its doctors. Investigations are ongoing in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq. GSK also disclosed in late May that it is under investigation by the U.K.’s Serious Fraud Office. GSK executives confessed in July 2013 to commercial bribery and tax-related crimes, including paying physicians and hospitals in order to bolster drug sales. Chinese officials said the scheme involved some 3 billion Chinese yuan in payments since 2007. From 2004 to 2010, physicians were allegedly bribed to use GSK drugs for conditions that, in some cases, they weren’t even designed to treat.