RPT-UPDATE 1-China widens drug industry probe, visits Belgium's UCB
BRUSSELS/LONDON, July 18 (Reuters) - Belgian drugmaker UCB has been visited by Chinese authorities as the country widens investigations into bribery by drugmakers, following allegations against Britain's GlaxoSmithKline.
Chinese police have accused GSK of bribing officials and doctors to boost sales and raise the price of its medicines, marking a hardening stance against malpractice by multinationals operating in the country.
"The Administration for Industry and Commerce has visited us," a UCB spokesman said on Thursday.
"They've been launching inspections with several pharma companies active in the country, both Chinese and foreign companies such as ours, and as part of the process our Shanghai office was visited by the agency in the last 48 hours."
The officials visiting the group's Shanghai offices were seeking information on compliance, he added.
The State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC) is one of China's main three anti-trust regulators in charge of market supervision.
Its investigations often overlap with the country's top watchdog, the National Development and Reform Commission, which has recently launched a pricing investigation into local and international drugmakers, including GSK, Merck and Astellas Pharma.