Luke MacGregor/Reuters

Drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline accused of bribing doctors in Poland

BBC investigation alleges physicians were paid to prescribe medicines, follows similar claims in China, Iraq

Pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has been accused of bribing doctors in Poland to prescribe its medicines, the latest if a string of corruption allegations to hit the company.

BBC current affairs program Panorama reported Monday that employees of GSK would give money to doctors for lectures that would never happen in a bid to boost certain products.

Jarek Wisniewski, a former GSK sales representative, told the BBC: “There is a simple equation: We pay doctors, they give us prescriptions.” He said. “We don’t pay doctors, we don’t see prescriptions for our drugs.”

“It’s a bribe,” Wisnieswki added. The allegations follow previous corruption probes into the company’s actions in China and Iraq.

Although the payments were recorded as “educational services,” he said the doctors understood that meant they were to educate patients on why they should take GSK drugs and increase prescriptions.

A different representative confirmed to BBC that doctors were paid to increase prescriptions of certain medicines by selling patients on their benefits.

The statements will air on Monday night’s episode of “Panorama.”

Polish prosecutors said Monday that they have evidence to support the claims of corrupt payments in 13 different health centers.

GSK said in a statement on Monday it is cooperating with investigators and that one of its employees had been disciplined in 2011 for inappropriate actions.

One doctor in Poland who admitted guilt has been fined and received a suspended sentence, according to the BBC. He said he accepted around $167 for a single educational program that he never gave, but said he was under pressure from a GSK sales rep.

“They kept tempting, and I am just a man,” the doctor told “Panorama.”

Wire services

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