Drug com­pany bribed doc­tors: re­port

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - NATION - By WANG QINGYUN in Bei­jing and WANG HONGYI in Shang­hai

A listed phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pany in Shang­hai has been ac­cused of brib­ing doc­tors to im­prove its sales.

Shang­hai Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals Hold­ing has al­legedly given kick­backs to doc­tors in 31 hos­pi­tals in Qing­dao, Shan­dong prov­ince, for pre­scrib­ing an ane­mia treat­ment pro­duced by its sub­sidiary, Qing­dao Grow­ful Medicine Co Ltd, ac­cord­ing to a re­port in 21st Cen­tury Busi­ness Her­ald.

Hos­pi­tals in­volved in­clude top-level pub­lic ones in the city, in­clud­ing the Af­fil­i­ated Hos­pi­tal of Qing­dao Univer­sity and Qing­dao Mu­nic­i­pal Hos­pi­tal Group.

The sub­sidiary com­pany al­legedly got 2.9 mil­lion yuan ($ 478,000) from sell­ing the medicine from Jan­uary to June to the 31 hos­pi­tals, while giv­ing more than 760,000 yuan in kick­backs to doc­tors in those hos­pi­tals.

The com­pany paid 6 to 8.5 yuan to the hos­pi­tals for each box of the medicine pre­scribed, while the price it is sold for in Shan­dong is about 39 yuan, the news­pa­per re­port said.

A spokesman for the board of Shang­hai Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals Hold­ing who de­clined to be iden­ti­fied told China Daily on Tues­day that the com­pany has launched an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the in­ci­dent and will act if the ac­cu­sa­tions are proved true.

The com­pany has a zero-tol­er­ance pol­icy on bribery, he said.

A pub­lic­ity of­fi­cer with Qing­dao Eighth Peo­ple’s Hos­pi­tal, one of the 31 hos­pi­tals al­legedly in­volved in the kick­backs, who only re­vealed his sur­name as Liang, told China Daily that the hos­pi­tal’s lead­er­ship has noted the in­ci­dent and will carry out its own in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

The dis­ci­plinary com­mit­tee of Qing­dao health bureau has be­gun in­ves­ti­gat­ing the in­ci­dent as well, he added.

Yu Mingde, chair­man of the China Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal En­ter­prises As­so­ci­a­tion, said that brib­ing hos­pi­tals and doc­tors is not rare among phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies in China.

“It did not start this year or last year. It took more than a decade for this prob­lem to keep de­vel­op­ing,” he said. “When many phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies are do­ing this, the com­pa­nies that choose not to do so can­not com­pete with oth­ers to win bids from hos­pi­tals and sell more of their prod­ucts.”

Some hos­pi­tals need the money, as the rev­enues they get through le­gal means don’t cover their op­er­at­ing costs, and doc­tors are ac­cept­ing kick­backs as they be­lieve they get too lit­tle for the great risks and bur­dens in their work, Yu said.

“The gov­ern­ment should spend more on sup­port­ing pub­lic health­care and im­prove doc­tors’ in­come,” he said.

There were sim­i­lar in­ci­dents this year where Glax­oSmithK­line was found to have bribed doc­tors and Sanofi-Aven­tis was al­leged to have bribed doc­tors for more pre­scrip­tions of its medicines. Con­tact the writ­ers at wangqingyun@chi­nadaily.com. cn and wanghongyi@chi­nadaily.com.cn Hu Qing in Qing­dao con­trib­uted to this story.

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