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AstraZeneca Employee Focus of Police Probe in China

July 22 (Bloomberg) -- AstraZeneca Plc, the U.K.’s biggest drugmaker after GlaxoSmithKline Plc, said an employee is the focus of a “local police matter” in Shanghai as China probes drugmakers on pricing and allegations of bribery and corruption.

Police in the Huangpu branch of the Shanghai Public Security Bureau visited AstraZeneca’s operations there regarding a sales representative, the company said today in an e-mailed statement. There is “no reason” to believe that the individual case is related to any other investigations, the London-based drugmaker said.

China is intensifying its probe of Glaxo, also based in London, on suspected economic crimes. Four senior executives have been detained in the investigation, which involves 3 billion yuan ($489 million) of travel and meeting expenses and trade in sexual favors, China’s Public Security Ministry said July 15.

“AstraZeneca adheres to high ethical standards in the pharmaceutical industry, and does not tolerate any illegal or unethical conduct in our business activities,” the company said. “All AstraZeneca China employees and third parties on AstraZeneca’s behalf are required to strictly comply with these guidelines in the conduct of business.”

Other foreign companies may also be involved, Gao Feng, head of the economic crimes investigations unit of China’s Public Security Ministry, told reporters at a July 15 briefing. While authorities haven’t named any other companies, UCB SA said last week that its Chinese operations were visited by local authorities.

To contact the reporter on this story: Allison Connolly in London at aconnolly4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Phil Serafino at pserafino@bloomberg.net

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