Thursday, July 18, 2013
If China should find that ethical drug companies were something other than ethical, it will be a case of Big Pharma shooting itself in the foot. Police allege that GlaxoSmithKline PLC used payoffs and "sexual favors" to advance its sales in the country. It will be up to Chinese courts to prove whether they did or not, but the pharmaceutical industry has apparently been corrupt in the country for a long time. Assuming GSK was playing the game the way others do in the country, it created its own PR crisis. It will be a difficult situation to overcome because the Chinese government is making an example of the company. This raises a serious question, however. What should a businessperson do when the environment in which he or she works is rotten? It is hard to keep one's integrity and remain employed. Company executives are pushing for sales growth. Customers are looking for kickbacks and other rewards. It is natural to go along if "everyone is doing it." The result, however, is what is happening in China It is better not to play the game in the first place, but try and tell a CEO that.