Novo Nordisk drawn into bribe scandal in China

Danish Novo Nordisk has been investigated along with other Western pharmaceutical companies suspected of bribery by the Chinese authorities.

Novo revealed on Thursday, that a production facility in Tianjin on Aug 1 had been visited by officials from the Administration for Industry and Commerce (AIC). The company added that there had been no visit at the company’s head office in the country.

The Chinese investigations into bribery and over-pricing in the pharmaceuticals industry started with a bribery scandal involving Britain’s GlaxoSmithKline Plc (GSK). On Thursday it expanded to Sanofi SA of France which is accused of having paid around 1.7 million yuan (S$351,475) in bribes to hundreds of doctors in China in 2007.

The visit to Novo Nordisk facility in Tianjin was revealed after the financcial report was presented on Wednesday 7 August in Copenhagen. Chief Financial Officer of Novo Nordisk Mr. Jesper Brandgaard elaborates in an interview with the Danish online media MedWatch.dk that he is not sure if the inspection was indeed linked to the ongoing investigation.

“We confirm that we have been visited by the local authorities in our manufacturing facility in Tianjin 1 August. We do not know whether it is part of the current investigation, and Novo Nordisk has not been charged with anything. We cooperate with the authorities, but we are currently not aware if we are going to be part of the ongoing major investigation,” Brandgaaard says.

Novo has 800 employees at the facility in Tianjin where the insulin pens for dispensing insulin for the entire Chinese market are filled.

“We were asked to provide information about our activities in Tianjin, but as I said, so we do not know whether it was a routine check, “he says, adding:

“I want to stress again that we are not accused of anything, and that it was not the police, but an administrative authority, who was visiting.”

“We have not been doing anything specific in relation to the current investigation that is underway in China. We have full confidence in the way we do business in China, and we have not made any significant changes in the light of the ongoing investigation of GSK. I would also like to emphasize that we have limited insight into the details of the case,” Brandgaard adds in the interview with MedWatch.dk

Novo Nordisk admitted in 2009 that it had paid bribes to the purchasing center of Saddam Hussein in return for profitable orders under the infamous Oil for food program managed by the United Nations

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