GlaxoSmithKline launches probe into claims of misconduct in Iraq

British drug-maker GlaxoSmithKline said it is launching an investigation into claims of misconduct in Iraq.

The announcement comes months after China began looking into allegations of a bribery ring within the company's business in that country.

The pharmaceutical giant responded on Sunday after the Wall Street Journal reported that the company is investigating claims of bribery in its Middle East operations. A whistle-blower claimed that Glaxo had hired doctors and pharmacists in Iraq to promote its products while they were still on the government payroll.

Glaxo said in a statement that it employed fewer than 60 people  in its pharmaceutical operations in Iraq.

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"These allegations relate to a small number of individuals in the country," the company said. "However, we are investigating whether there has been any improper conduct and these investigations are ongoing."

In China, Glaxo is facing a wide-ranging bribery probe after authorities accused some of its employees of bribing hospitals and doctors to prescribe the company's drugs and using a network of travel agencies to funnel the money. Last July, the company said some of its executives in China appeared to have broken the law.

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The company in December announced that it will stop paying doctors to promote its products and will also stop linking the amount that its representatives earn to the number of prescriptions that doctors write.

In its statement this week, Glaxo acknowledged that "operating in emerging markets is challenging given the issues many of these countries face with funding and maturity of their respective healthcare systems."


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