Danone’s Dumex brand is “extremely shocked" by allegations on Chinese state television that it bribed hospital staff to give its milk powder to new-born babies and will investigate immediately, the French food group said.
China Central Television (CCTV) earlier cited an unidentified former Dumex sales manager as saying the company had paid medical staff at a city hospital in Tianjin to promote its products.
Chinese authorities have been cracking down on graft in various industries, notably the pharmaceutical sector.
They imposed a record fine in August on a number of local and foreign-owned milk powder firms, including Danone, for price fixing.
CCTV cited the former sales manager said that every year the brand would give several hundred thousand yuan in “gifts” to the hospital.
“Dumex China pays great attention to and is extremely shocked by the CCTV report... We will immediately launch an investigation,” Dumex said in a statement yesterday.
“Dumex Baby Food strictly adheres to Chinese laws and regulations.”
Danone said in July it was co-operating with China's top planning agency, the National Development and Reform Commission, and it had reduced the sales prices of its main products by between 5 percent and 20 percent.
Corruption in China’s healthcare industry is widespread, fuelled in part by low base salaries for doctors at the country’s 13 500 public hospitals. – Reuters