GSK bribery an opportunity to investigate China's medicine market

Updated: 2013-07-16 20:02


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GlaxoSmithKline, the global giant medicine producer, is under investigation for bribing Chinese government officials. Why not take this opportunity to investigate the whole market? asked a column in Beijing News (excerpts below).

GSK must be having a hard time recently — reports show that its executives in China are involved in several bribery cases with local government officials. The fact that it produces medicine for global patients has attracted more attention to the scandal.

Several global medicine giants, like Johnson & Johnson, Siemens and Pfizer, have all been involved in similar scandals before. Of them, Pfizer even received a $2.3 billion bill from the US government.

An immediate result of the bribery scandal must be higher medicine prices, as they must shift the cost to patients. That also promotes corruption within hospitals and responsible government agencies, thus encouraging more medicine enterprises to join the practice. All of these cost will be shifted to patients who need the medicine.

In previous cases concerning medicine enterprises, the punishment has never been comparable with that in the US and other countries; so the other enterprises do not care and simply continue to bribe. The cost of breaking the law in China is still too light, and medicine enterprises can well afford it. Therefore, supervisors should also use this opportunity to investigate the whole medicine market. Only with enough punishment for those who break the law can the vicious circle of bribery and high medicine prices be stopped.