Five questions answered on the GSK China bribery scandal

The latest developments.

As GlaxoSmithKline continues to face bribery accusations from Chinese authorities over its dealings in the country, we answer five questions on the latest development.

What has GSK been accused of?

The Chinese athorities accused and detained senior executives of GSK over a week ago alleging the company funnelled 3 billion yuan ($489 million) to 700 travel agencies and consultancies over six years to facilitate bribes and increase sales. They say this ultimately pushed up the prices of drugs in China.

GSK said it is fully co-operating with the investigation. They had initially said the company cold find no evidence of corruption internally.

What’s the latest news?

Today the global British drug maker has back tracked and admitted that some of its executives in China had appeared to have broken the law in relation to the bribery scandal.

The company added that it had zero intolerance for any employees who broke the law.

What exactly did the company say?

GSK's head of emerging markets, Abbas Hussain, in a statement said:

"Certain senior executives of GSK China who know our systems well, appear to have acted outside of our processes and controls which breaches Chinese law. We have zero tolerance for any behaviour of this nature.

"I want to make it very clear that we share the desire of the Chinese authorities to root out corruption wherever it exists. We will continue to work together with the MPS and we will take all necessary actions required as this investigation progresses.”

He added: “In addition, savings made as a result of proposed changes to our operational model will be passed on in the form of price reductions, ensuring our medicines are more affordable to Chinese patients."

Has any British nationals been involved in the scandal?

Only one - Peter Humphrey, who runs Hong Kong- based ChinaWhys. News of his detention was reported today.

Although not a GSK employee he is believed to have been a contractor for GSK and is now one of up to 10 individuals detained over the allegations. The others are Chinese.

The reason for his detention is unclear but the foreign office has said they are aware of it and are providing consular assistance to his family.

Have any other drug companies been targeted?

Yes. It has emerged today that AstraZeneca has also been visited by Chinese authorities. They visited on Monday and took a sales representative away for questioning.

An AstraZeneca spokesperson speaking to Reuters news agency said: "We believe that this investigation relates to an individual case and while we have not yet received an update from the Public Security Bureau, we have no reason to believe it's related to any other investigations," the spokeswoman said.

Photograph: Getty Images

Heidi Vella is a features writer for Nridigital.com

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10 times Nicola Sturgeon nailed what it's like to be a Remain voter post-Brexit

Scotland's First Minister didn't mince her words.

While Westminster flounders, up in Holyrood, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has busied herself trying to find a way for Scotland to stay in the European Union

And in a speech on Monday, she laid out the options.

The Scottish Nationalist acknowledged the option of independence would not be straightforward, but she added: “It may well be that the option that offers us the greatest certainty, stability and the maximum control over our own destiny, is that of independence.”

She also hinted at a more measured stance, where Scotland could “retain ties and keep open channels” with the EU while other countries within the UK “pursue different outcomes”. 

And she praised the new PM Theresa May’s commitment to wait for a UK-wide agreement before triggering Article 50.

But Sturgeon’s wide-ranging speech also revisited her memories of Brexit, and the days of chaos that followed. Here are some of the best bits.

1. On the referendum

I am the last person you will hear criticising the principle of referenda. But proposing a referendum when you believe in the constitutional change it offers is one thing. Proposing - as David Cameron did - a referendum even though he opposed the change on offer is quite another. 

2. On the result

I told the Scottish Parliament a few days later that I was “disappointed and concerned” by the result. I have to admit that was parliamentary language for a much stronger feeling.

3. On the Leave campaign

I felt, and still feel, contempt for a Leave campaign that had lied and given succour to the racism and intolerance of the far right.

4. On leadership

It seemed abundantly clear to me that people - even many of those who had voted to Leave - were going to wake up feeling very anxious and uncertain. It was therefore the job of politicians, not to pretend that we instantly had all the answers, but to give a sense of direction. To try to create some order out of the chaos. That’s what I was determined to try to do for Scotland. I assumed that UK politicians would do likewise. I was wrong. 

5. On EU nationals

I felt then – and still feel very strongly today - that we must give them as much reassurance as possible. It is wrong that the UK government has not yet given a guarantee of continued residence to those who have built lives, careers and families here in the UK.

6. On karma

You tend to reap what you have sown over many years. It shouldn’t have come as a surprise to politicians who have spent years denigrating the EU and pandering to the myths about free movement, that some voters simply did not believe them when they suddenly started extolling the virtues of both.

7. On teenage voters

I think it was wrong in principle to deny EU nationals and 16 & 17 year olds the right to vote. But, as well as being wrong in principle, it was also tactically foolish. 

8. On slogans

While “Brexit means Brexit” is intended to sound like a strong statement of intent it is, in truth, just a soundbite that masks a lack of any clear sense of direction.

9. On Scotland

Some will say that we also voted to stay in the UK, so we must accept the UK wide verdict. But in 2014, we voted to stay part of a UK that was a member of the EU - indeed, we were told then that protecting our EU membership was one of the main reasons to vote against independence.

10. On taking back control

To end up in a position, which is highly possible, where we have to abide by all the rules of the single market and pay to be part of it, but have no say whatsoever in what the rules are, would not be taking back control, to coin a phrase we’ve heard more than once recently- it would be giving up control.