A Chinese health official has been arrested on accusations of bribery as the country continues to crack down on corruption cases in its pharma sector.
Wang Yu was formally the director of the National Health and Family Planning Commission’s bureau of medical administration, and was responsible for supervising drug trials and drafting policies for medical institutions for over a decade. He is now being investigated by prosecutors in China’s Sichuan province.
This follows the February sentencing of Huang Fenping, the former deputy director for the Shanghai Municipal Commission of Health and Family Planning, to 19 years in prison for accepting bribes from pharma firms to promote their products.
Huang was said to have accepted over three million yuan in bribes and embezzled a further 1.4 million. He was found to have over 400 envelopes full of money in his house and several gold bars in the boot of his car.
Media reports linked Huang to last year’s GSK bribery scandal, in which the UK firm was fined £297 million for using bribes to ‘obtain improper commercial gains’. GSK is alleged to have paid out around £320 million to doctors and hospitals. The executives linked to the scandal were given suspended sentences and expected to be dismissed.
Earlier in May the Chinese government announced that it would be removing its price caps for most drugs to allow the market to play a bigger role in determining prices. This could encourage more pharma firms to commit to the country in the wake of its regulatory crackdowns.
However, at the same time foreign drug makers are facing increasing pressure to cut their prices. This is because local governments in the country have introduced new bidding systems to drive down costs, and are forcing big pharma firms to compete directly with cheap Chinese generics.