China is putting more foreign drug firms under scrutiny, state media said Tuesday, days after the conclusion of a police probe into alleged bribery by employees of Britain’s GlaxoSmithKline(GSK).

Earlier this month, Chinese authorities ended a nearly one-year probe into GSK, accusing a top British executive of ordering employees to commit bribery and handing the case over to prosecutors.

Health authorities in the eastern city of Hangzhou were looking into the business practices of further drug companies, including US-based Eli Lilly, Britain’s AstraZeneca and Novo Nordisk of Denmark, the 21st Century Business Herald newspaper reported, citing an internal document.

Another company, Swiss pharmaceuticals giant Roche, said last week that Chinese officials had paid a visit to its offices in Hangzhou.

The GSK case came to light in June last year through a local investigation, after police in the central Chinese city of Changsha announced they were examining the company’s employees for “economic crimes”.

The 21st Century Business Herald said Eli Lilly, AstraZeneca and Novo Nordisk were required to conduct self inspections for kickbacks and report to local authorities.

But Eli Lilly on Tuesday denied it had been approached by Hangzhou authorities.

“Lilly has not been contacted by (the) Hangzhou Health Bureau,” the company said in a statement provided to AFP. “We fully cooperate with any inquiries we receive from (the) government and its agencies in China.”

AstraZeneca and Novo Nordisk did not immediately respond to request for comment.

China’s healthcare sector is widely considered to be riddled with graft, given the opaque tendering system for drugs and doctors’ low salaries.

The government last year launched sweeping probes into alleged malpractice by foreign companies in several sectors, and against the backdrop of an anti-graft campaign backed by President Xi Jinping to root out official corruption.

Source: AFP