British pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline plc (ADR) (NYSE:GSK) (LON:GSK) announced yesterday, April 13th, that the company is under investigation for bribery in Poland. The charges relate to efforts to promote GSK’s asthma drug Seretide.

GlaxoSmithKline GSK

Eleven doctors and a GSK regional manager have been charged over alleged corruption between 2010 and 2012. In a statement, GlaxoSmithKline plc (ADR) (NYSE:GSK) (LON:GSK) said one employee had been disciplined and the company was co-operating fully with the investigation.

If the bribery charges in Poland prove true, GlaxoSmithKline plc (ADR) (NYSE:GSK) (LON:GSK) will likely also face charges relating to both the UK Bribery Act and the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Doctors paid for nonexistent training sessions

The bribery charges apparently stem from training program set up by GlaxoSmithKline plc (ADR) (NYSE:GSK) (LON:GSK) in 2010 to help improve diagnostic standards and medical training in respiratory disease. The training program was run by Polish doctors. GSK released a statement explaining the program and emphasizing that they are cooperating with authorities.

“These sessions were delivered by specialist healthcare professionals who, based on contracts signed with GSK, received payments appropriate to the scope of work as well as their level of knowledge and experience. The provision of sessions under this programme was agreed with the Polish healthcare centres.

“Following receipt of allegations regarding the conduct of the programme in the Lodz region, GlaxoSmithKline plc (ADR) (NYSE:GSK) (LON:GSK) has investigated the matter, using resources from both inside and outside the company. The investigation found evidence of inappropriate communication in contravention of GSK policy by a single employee. The employee concerned was reprimanded and disciplined as a result.

“We continue to investigate these matters and are co-operating fully with the CBA [Poland’s Central Anticorruption Office].”

Other GlaxoSmithKline legal problems

Back in 2012, GlaxoSmithKline plc (ADR) (NYSE:GSK) (LON:GSK) paid a $3 billion penalty after pleading guilty to promoting two drugs for off-label uses as well as withholding safety data from a clinical trial of a diabetes drug from the FDA.

GlaxoSmithKline plc (ADR) (NYSE:GSK) (LON:GSK) also announced back in December that it was completely revamping its sales team incentive schemes to improve transparency after a corruption scandal in China earlier in the year. The Chinese Ministry of Public Security claimed that GSK paid three billion Chinese yuan ($470 million) to Chinese nationals as bribes using travel agencies for several years beginning in 2007.