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Drug giant GSK launches probe into allegations it bribed doctors in Iraq

GlaxoSmithKline says it has launched an investigation into allegations that it hired state-employed doctors in Iraq as paid sales representatives.

The pharmaceuticals giant said Monday it is probing whether there has been any "improper conduct" in its Iraq business. It was responding to claims from a whistleblower, published in the Wall Street Journal, that it paid for 16 doctors and pharmacists in Iraq as its representatives while they continued working for the government.

GSK has separately been embroiled in a major bribery probe in China, where authorities allege that four of its employees paid for doctors and hospitals to prescribe its drugs.

The new claims in Iraq date back to 2012, and reportedly came from a person familiar with the company's Middle East operations.