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Bayer faces China investigation

Published on 16/09/13 at 10:50am

Bayer HealthCare has become the latest Western company to find itself under investigation in China over an issue which apparently relates to the country’s competition laws.

The German manufacturer has been visited by authorities over a “potential case of unfair competition”, according to a report in the UK’s Financial Times.

The State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC) has been carrying out an investigation into how dozens of pharma companies price drugs in China – but this is not related to the bribery probes in which GlaxoSmithKline and others have found themselves embroiled.

“We can confirm that a local branch of the AIC [Administration for Industry and Commerce] visited one of our offices in China at the end of August to investigate a potential case of unfair competition,” Bayer said in a statement.

“We are fully co-operating with the authority,” it added. The German firm was not immediately available for further comment.

There is no suggestion that there is any question of bribery and corruption involving Bayer.

China’s probes into the activities of drug makers have tended to focus over the last couple of months on European and US firms operating in the country.

However, last week a state TV channel reported that sales teams at Chia Tai Tianqing Pharmaceutical Group - 60%-owned by Chinese firm Sino Biopharmaceutical – had given doctors trips to Taiwan and Thailand in return for their attendance at an event.

GlaxoSmithKline is the subject of the highest profile investigation into bribery in China although Sanofi and other companies are also under the microscope.

Chinese police have contradicted GSK by suggesting the company knew about the alleged use of travel agencies to handle £320 million of kickbacks to doctors. GSK denies this.

The European Union Chamber of Commerce in China’s pharma working group suggested the authorities might be trying to ‘frighten’ pharma companies and said western firms were being discriminated against.

Adam Hill       

 

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