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AstraZeneca probed in China amid GSK scandal

Updated: 2013-07-24 09:22
( People's Daily Online)

After bribery allegations were raised against GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Chinese police have targeted another global leading drug maker AstraZeneca (AZ).

A report said Chinese police had visited the Shanghai office on Friday and taken away one employees for questioning, according a spokesman for AZ.

Sun Xiaoyun, AZ's PR director in China confirmed the report but claimed that the reason of the employee being taken away has nothing to do with the company.

Chinese authorities are investigating into GSK, AZ's major rival, accusing it of bribing officials and doctors to boost sales and raise the price of its medicines.

It seems Chinese authorities are widening the investigation into foreign drug makers. Last week, a spokesman for the Belgian drug maker UCB said that officials from China's anti-trust regulator had visited UCB's Shanghai office. Roche Group, Novartis and other dozens of multinationals were reportedly involved in the probe but all of them denied the involvement.

In the face of the intensive compliance inspections of Chinese police and industrial regulator, many multinational drug makers have become low profile.

A Chinese employee working for a foreign drug maker told media that pharmaceutical magnates like Pfizer, Novartis and AZ had quietly cancelled academic conferences in China.

Backgrounder: About AstraZeneca (AZ)

AZ is a British-Swedish biopharmaceutical manufacturer. In June 2012, AZ set up its Chinese headquarters in Shanghai with investment of more than $100 million. AZ's Losec (Omeprazole) is the best-selling drug in the world.