Beijing watchdog to launch new inquiry into bribes in medical market

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 15 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 15 August, 2013, 3:51am

Beijing is intensifying its investigation into bribery in the pharmaceutical and medical services sector with a fresh three-month inquiry slated to begin tomorrow, Xinhua reported yesterday.

The investigation by the State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC), one of the mainland's anti-trust regulators, was aimed at stamping out bribery, fraud and other anti-competitive business practices in various sectors, Xinhua said.

"Commercial bribery not only leads to artificially high prices, it undermines market order in terms of fair competition and corrupts social morals and professionalism," the report said.

The SAIC would hand down severe punishment for bribery in the bidding process for drugs and medical services as this hurt the interests of the Chinese people, it said.

The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) is already investigating 60 foreign and local pharmaceutical firms over pricing. This investigation has yet to conclude.

Separately, police have accused drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline of bribery. The British company has said some of its senior Chinese executives appeared to have broken the law.

Health Ministry officials are also investigating drugmaker Sanofi over bribery allegations, something the French company has said it was taking "very seriously".

The SAIC investigation will also look into misleading or deceptive marketing practices used by car dealers, placement agencies and real estate agents among others. The SAIC is one of the national anti-trust regulators in charge of market supervision. It also looks into bribery cases.

Other sectors affected by the NDRC pricing inquiries include milk powder, jewellery and vehicles.