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French pharmaceutical company Sanofi AG said on Aug 8 it is taking a bribery allegation in China very seriously and is reviewing and addressing the issue.
Chinese newspaper 21st Century Business Herald reported that Sanofi staff bribed more than 500 doctors at 79 hospitals in China with 1.7 million yuan ($277,800).
The company said in a statement: "Sanofi takes any allegation very seriously and has established processes in place for reviewing and addressing such issues in a manner that is consistent with our legal and ethical obligations. At this time, it would be premature to comment on events that may have occurred in 2007."
The allegation came after Chinese authorities detained four top executives from British drug maker GlaxoSmithKline, which has been accused of funneling up to 3 billion yuan in bribes to doctors and officials.
Sanofi said in its statement it is confident about its business operations in China and committed to conducting its global business with integrity.
"We have zero tolerance to any unethical practice," the company said. "We are determined to respect the ethical principles governing our activities and are committed to abiding by the laws and regulations that apply in each country where we operate."
This month, Sanofi's office in Shenyang, Liaoning province, was visited by the Chinese authorities amid a wave of crackdowns on bribery and corruption in the country's pharmaceutical sector.