Home>News Center>Life

Multinationals with double standards kills
(Shanghai Star)
Updated: 2004-02-20 08:46

An ordinary Sunday morning, I turned on the TV to wake myself up. Five minutes later, I was fully awake. Indeed, I was shocked. Someone was reported to have died because of insufficient safety instructions about a UK-made drug for hepatitis B.

Zeffix (拉米夫定), a GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) product, is said to be effective in treating liver disease. Initially, the reported patient in Zhejiang Province was pleased with the drug's effectiveness shortly. However, within a year, the hepatitis returned worse than before. After he died, his brother, seeking to find out what had caused the death found a different description of the drug in other countries and regions. Zeffix has the warning label "Poison" in Hong Kong. The label also says that "Fatalities are very rare and the causal relationship to discontinuation of lamivudine treatment is unknown."

Why wasn't there a similar warning on the drug when it was put on sale in the Chinese mainland? A response from GSK said that they had prepared the Chinese version of the drug's description under Chinese law and regulations. How ridiculous, given the general and often ambiguous nature of Chinese law. Even if warnings were not strictly required by the Chinese Government, is it ethical for GSK, a so-called respectable multinational company, to ignore the risk of possible fatalities? Ironically, on its website, I find its mission statement is: "to improve the quality of human life by enabling people to do more, feel better and live longer". Its annual report also includes a "Corporate and Social Responsibilities Report". Is the company kidding? I cannot see any such evidence in China.

Like any multinational company, GSK is anxious to take over the world's largest market - China. And it is being successful. Zeffix is the second best-selling drug in its field in China. But GSK is not true to its own mission statement. From a long-term perspective, it cannot keep on fooling Chinese customers. A truly respectable company wins customers with good ethics. I believe very soon, every media channel in China will pick up the report and more Chinese will know more about GSK and Zeffix. The PR effect will soon erode its sales. Did GSK expect this when entering the Chinese market?

Of course, GSK is not alone in fooling Chinese consumers. In Chongqing Duracell, the world's largest battery maker, has been accused of making false statements about its non-rechargeable alkaline batteries on sale in China. By saying non-rechargable, the company encourages Chinese to buy more batteries and dispose of the old ones which adds to the pollution of the environment. Imagine what would happen if Duracell did this in its home country, the US? Similar stories exist about Toshiba's defective notebooks and Mitsubishi's defective cars.

Each multinational gave the same reason: the absence of restrictions imposed by Chinese laws and regulations. The shrewd businesses are only in China for profit. But as time goes by, their mistakes will take their toll. Knowledgeable Chinese are becoming increasingly aware of their hypocrisy in social responsibilities. Only good ethics are good business.

  Today's Top News     Top Life News

China puzzled over US filing tax complaint at WTO



Chen, Annette Lu slightly wounded in shooting



Specific reform objectives set for banks



Bush urges allies to stick with united mission



Marriage bells toll in cyber churches



Chinese, French women hold dialogue


  China on show in song and story
  Girl, 14, becomes a mother
  Dazzling art works catch collectors' eyes
  Liver-transplant patient gives birth
  China final of Miss Universe to be held in "Spring City"
  Computer game cracked down on for discrediting China's image
  Go to Another Section  
  Story Tools  
  Related Stories  
Hepatitis B carrier launches legal action
Hepatitis B virus carriers abandoned by society
Action urged against hepatitis C
Virulent hepatitis C prevention vital now
New hope for Chinese hepatitis C patients
Chinese scientists decode new hepatitis B virus genes
Scientists decode new hepatitis B virus genes
  HK pop star Edison Chen punched by youngsters