The last time anyone remembers a row over Brits forcing drugs on the Chinese market, it ended with our boys taking Hong Kong. But anyone predicting that British interests will emerge from the latest China crisis with comparable benefits to those of the opium wars has surely been smoking some pretty muscular gear.

To recap: last week, UK pharma firm GlaxoSmithKline admitted that Chinese doctors were bribed by its execs with cash and sexual favours in return for prescribing the company's drugs. That coincided with rival AstraZeneca having its Shanghai office raided by police – all of which is jolly inconvenient, as Astra faces the City this week to unveil its interim results.

Some investors ponder whether bribery is a wider problem than has yet emerged, and if Chinese authorities are deliberately targeting foreign firms.

Maybe, but critics of the UK companies also point to GSK's $3bn fine last year for bribing US doctors, plus Astra's indictment in Serbia on similar charges, as well as an admission in its annual report about "investigating indications of inappropriate conduct in certain countries, including China".

All of which leaves one obvious question: when it comes to getting embroiled in bribery probes, is British pharma struggling to kick the habit?