Sanofi (France) Fined $52 Million Over Plavix Smear Campaign in France

Published: May 14, 2013

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File this under 'Why didn't they know any better?' Four years ago, Sanofi grew worried that a generic version of its best-selling Plavix bloodthinner would gain attention from physicians and pharmacies in France. So the drugmaker embarked on an aggressive effort to dissuade these folks from showing any interest in the forthcoming competition. Sanofi, however, appears to have gone a bit too far, at least according to the Competition Authority, which has just issued a $52.7 million fine for a smear campaign that essentially denigrated generics. How so? Sanofi reps made remarks not only casting doubt on the safety and efficacy of generic forms of Plavix "without relying on any proven fact," but also raised questions about potential liabilty that physicians and pharmacies may encounter if patients developed medical problems after using a generic. The Competition Authority included comments from physicians and pharmacists, in fact, to illustrate the extent to which Sanofi (SNY) tried to convince them to stick with Plavix. The drugmaker "terrorized doctors" and "pharmacists cannot be fooled" by the tactics that were used, according to a translation.

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