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China's top drug distributor Sinopharm says ex-VP detained

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Sinopharm Group Co Ltd, China's largest pharmaceutical distributor, said its former vice president has been detained as part of a probe into alleged corruption, the latest industry official to come under scrutiny.

Shi Jinming was detained on Friday by Shanghai authorities, while Xu Yizhong, a former general manager of a wholly owned subsidiary, was also under investigation, Sinopharm said in a statement late on Sunday.

Shi had stepped down due to personal reasons on January 7, the company said in the statement. It gave no further details.

Sinopharm said the case had no material impact on its operations and it had set up a special committee to examine and review its internal control system.

Corruption in the healthcare sector has been in the spotlight over the past year, with regulators investigating international and domestic drugs firms and milk powder companies for suspected graft.

The most high-profile investigation involved British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline Plc, significantly denting the firm's China sales and spooking doctors more widely to reduce interaction with sales teams.

(Reporting by Donny Kwok; Editing by Anne Marie Roantree and Christopher Cushing)

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