Public welfare sponsorship or commercial bribery?

By Li Shu, AllBright Law Offices

It has been common in recent years that drugs and medical device companies sponsor professionals to participate in medical science conferences. However, such companies, whose primary goal is to maximize profits, should consider legal issues, such as the differences or boundaries between sponsorship and commercial bribery, as well as the resulting legal risks, when they voluntarily sponsor medical staff to take part in non-profit registered academic conferences on medical science.


Sponsorship, or donation, refers to the public-welfare support and aid in the forms of funds or materials provided to health and family planning organizations voluntarily and for free by individuals, legal persons and other organizations both at home and abroad.

Purposes of donations

Article 5 of the Measures for the Administration of the Acceptance of Public Welfare Donations by Health and Family Planning Organizations for Trial Implementation (hereinafter referred to as Measures) stipulates that drugs and medical device companies shall sponsor medical staff to participate in academic activities. Article 4 stipulates that the donations should be made on a voluntary and free basis, for public welfare and not for profit. Besides, Article 5 of the Nine Prohibitions for Strengthening Ethical Conduct in the Healthcare Industry prohibits medical staff from marketing medical, food and health products.

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Li Shu is a senior partner of AllBright Law Offices

AllBright Law Firm


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