A DRUGS company operating a North-East factory has been accused of bribing doctors to prescribe its medicines in Europe.

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), which employs about 1,000 North-East workers in Barnard Castle, County Durham, has been accused over its alleged behaviour in Poland.

A former sales representative for the company told the BBC's Panorama programme reps paid doctors to boost prescriptions there.

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Jarek Wisniewiski said that in 2010 he worked on a marketing programme across Poland to push its Seretide asthma drug.

Another former drug rep said they paid doctors for lectures that never happened, resulting in a greater number of prescriptions.

The programme said a criminal investigation is under way, with 11 doctors and one GSK regional manager charged in connection with corruption.

GSK told the show it ran a programme in Poland from 2010 to 2012 to help improve diagnostic standards and medical training for the benefit of patients with respiratory disease.

It said: “Some sessions were delivered by specialist healthcare professionals who, based on contracts signed with GSK, received payments appropriate to the scope of work as well as their level of knowledge and experience.

“The provision of sessions under this programme was agreed with the Polish healthcare centres.

“Following receipt of allegations regarding the conduct of the programme in the Lodz region, GSK has investigated the matter, using resources from both inside and outside the company.

“The investigation found evidence of inappropriate communication in contravention of GSK policy by a single employee.

“The employee concerned was reprimanded and disciplined as a result.

“We continue to investigate these matters and are co-operating fully with the Central Anti-corruption Agency.”