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Bristol-Myers Squibb Is Watching its Step in China

Bristol-Myers Squibb corporate and R & D officesBristol-Myers Squibb corporate and R & D offices
BMS says it's halting "certain initiatives in China."Photograph by John Greim—LightRocket via Getty Images

Sales people for pharma giant Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY) have been told to no longer entertain doctors in China or pay them to speak at medical conferences, in another sign of the pharma industry’s fear of being drawn into allegations of corruption.

Those directive are a few of the changes the drugmaker has implemented after it paid $14 million to settle bribery allegations in the country, according to The Financial Times.

The company in October agreed to settle charges by the Securities and Exchange Commission that its majority-owned joint venture in China had tried to increase prescriptions of its drugs by giving healthcare providers there cash, jewellery, meals, travel, entertainment, and sponsorships for conferences and meetings, along with other gifts. The SEC claimed that BMS had garnered more than $11 million in profits from those violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

The FT said “industry figures” had cited reports in China that BMS had ordered the tactical shift among its sales staff. When asked to respond to the reports, the company told the FT that it had stopped “certain initiatives in China as the company continues to review its activities and build upon its business model in China.” BMS did not immediately return Fortune’s request for comment.


Drugmakers in China have been under intense scrutiny since local prosecutors disclosed GlaxoSmithKline Plc’s (GSK) “massive is systemic” bribery scheme in 2013, which ultimately resulted in a record criminal file of 461 million pounds, now equivalent to some $656 million.