Sinopharm, China’s state-owned drug distribution giant, says that two former senior executives have been accused of corruption.

The company issued a statement to the Hong Kong stock exchange that Shi Jinming, its vice-president who resigned on December 29 due to personal reasons, was detained on January 10 by Shanghai police “for an investigation in relation to an allegation of corruption against him”. Xu Yizhong, former general manager of a Sinopharm subsidiary, is also involved in the investigation, the company said.

Sinopharm has formed a committee, led by its chairman and president, to look at the case and it will also look at the group’s "internal control system".

The move comes as China continues its crackdown on illegal marketing activities by pharmaceutical companies. The most prominent case has involved GlaxoSmithKline, which saw some employees accused last summer of paying up to $500 million in bribes to promote its products.