(AP) China's police ministry said Thursday that it has found employees of drug manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline bribed doctors and hospitals to prescribe medications.
Employees gave free travel as "large bribes" to doctors, hospitals, foundations and medical associations "to open new sales channels and increase drug revenues," the ministry said in a statement.
It identified the employees only as "high officials" of Britain-based GSK and gave no details of the size of payments or who received them. It said the investigation took place in Shanghai and the cities of Changsha and Zhengzhou.
"After questioning, the suspects confessed to the crime," the statement said.
GlaxoSmithKline didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
Police in Changsha announced two weeks ago that GSK employees had been detained for questioning about unspecified "economic crimes." The company said at that time it was cooperating but didn't know what authorities were investigating.
GlaxoSmithKline said in June that it had investigated an accusation that its salespeople in China bribed doctors and found no evidence of wrongdoing. The company has said the police investigation might be based on information from the same anonymous source.
GlaxoSmithKline PLC is headquartered in Britain but has a presence in the United States, which could make it liable to penalties under U.S. anti-bribery laws.
Last week, state media reported that the government was investigating production costs for 60 foreign and domestic drug companies in a possible first step toward changing state-set maximum prices. The announcement gave no indication any companies were suspected of wrongdoing.