DRUGMAKERS Sanofi of France and the United States’ Eli Lilly are the latest pharmaceutical companies to be visited by authorities, in a sign that China is stepping up investigations into the industry.
Sanofi confirmed that officials from the Shenyang Administration for Industry and Commerce, in northeastern Liaoning Province, visited its regional offices on Monday.
“We are not aware of the purpose of this visit and we will work closely with the authorities on that,” Sanofi said in a statement.
“We’re committed to abiding by the laws and regulations that apply in each country where we operate,” the statement said.
Eli Lilly’s operations are also under review but the company said this had no connection with ongoing investigations of UK drug firm GlaxoSmithKline by the Ministry of Public Security.
“Shenyang Administration for Industry and Commerce started to review our business operations early this year and we continue to fully cooperate with the inquiries,” the company said in a statement yesterday.
Lilly also denied online posts that it had been ordered to pay a fine of several million yuan by the Shenyang authorities.
“We have not received any formal notice from Shenyang authorities regarding the results of this investigation,” the statement said.
The investigation into GlaxoSmithKline is ongoing.
Police last month detained at least four Glaxo executives and related personnel in China, alleging they were involved in passing bribes totaling 3 billion yuan (US$484 million) to government officials, medical associations and foundations, hospitals and doctors.
Police are also investigating other officials and hospitals that may be involved.
Elsewhere, British pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca last month also confirmed that its Shanghai office had been visited by police and that a sales representative was questioned.
Belgian drugmaker UCB also said its office in Shanghai had been visited by officials from the State Administration for Industry and Commerce seeking information on compliance.
The State Council said last month that it would be stepping up medical system reform and surveillance of any misbehavior involving drug pricing and procurement.
It added that it would also extend scrutiny of medical institutions to include medical staff and their practices.