According to new reports, bribes are routinely paid by major foreign pharmaceutical companies operating in China.
Five sales representatives for foreign companies told the BBC their firms paid bribes in order to increase sales of their products.
None of them wanted to be identified, fearing they would lose their jobs.
The revelations come as Beijing widens its investigation into drugs-price fixing amid a bribery scandal engulfing drugs giant GlaxoSmithKline.
One of the salesmen said his company paid about $1,000 to get its product back on the shelves at one hospital.
“I don’t deny [giving money to doctors] happens in foreign companies,” the sales representative said.
“It is rare though and only very few people get it,” he added.
GSK was accused of directing up to $500 million through travel agencies to facilitate bribes to Chinese doctors and officials
But he described an incident where a product had been cleared from a hospital’s shelves, which proved to be “an embarrassment” for him and his company.
“If we follow the normal procedure to recover it, it is very complicated. It will cost a lot of money and energy. We looked for a quick way.”
The sales representative admitted that strictly speaking, the money paid out to ensure the product returned to shelves was probably a bribe and that his manager signed it off. He said it would have cost a lot more to achieve the same result through official routes.
“It may cost us more if we have not paid the bribe. It will be a lot of money and energy,” he said.
Such revelations follow last month’s allegations by the Chinese police that the British pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline had engaged in “mafia-style behavior”. GSK was accused of directing up to $500 million through travel agencies to facilitate bribes to doctors and officials.
A detained Chinese executive from the firm told state television that bribes paid by his company had inflated prices of its products by a third.
GSK has said that it is co-operating with the Chinese investigation.
China’s health care spending is expected to more than double by the end of this decade.
By investigating possible drugs price fixing the authorities are hoping to tackle the rising costs.
Former Austrian Interior Minister and Euro MP Ernst Strasser has been sentenced to four years in jail after being convicted of bribe-taking.
The conservative Austrian People’s Party MP was exposed by reporters from the UK’s Sunday Times, who secretly filmed him while posing as lobbyists.
They showed him being offered a 100,000-euro ($130,000) annual payment in exchange for influencing EU legislation in the European Parliament.
Ernst Strasser, 56, denied any wrongdoing.
He said he had resigned to protect his party.
He said he had guessed that the “lobbyists” were fake, but had played along with the ruse in order to find out what was actually motivating the pair, who dined with him before the Sunday Times expose in March 2011.
Former Austrian Interior Minister and Euro MP Ernst Strasser has been sentenced to four years in jail after being convicted of bribe-taking
Presiding Judge Georg Olschak said he did not believe Ernst Strasser’s defence that he thought the journalists were US secret agents whom the politician had wanted to expose.
“That is probably one of the most outlandish things I have heard in my 20-year career,” said Judge Georg Olschak.
“You won’t find a single court in Austria to believe that argument.”
The judge told Ernst Strasser few people had damaged Austria’s reputation as much as he had.
Alexandra Maruna, for the prosecution, said Ernst Strasser had “massively harmed European politics” and deserved to be punished for abusing confidence in elected officials.
One of four MEPs caught up in a “cash-for-laws” scandal in 2011, he plans to appeal against the verdict.
Ernst Strasser served as Austrian interior minister from 2000 to 2004 and in the European Parliament from 2009 to 2011.