Sanofi Fined $52.8 Million for Denigrating Plavix Copies

Sanofi, France’s largest drugmaker, was fined 40.6 million euros ($52.8 million) by the country’s competition regulator for trying to limit sales of generic versions of the company’s Plavix blood thinner.

Sanofi denigrated the copies of the drug to doctors and pharmacists, the regulator said in a statement on its website today. The Competition Authority was acting on a complaint by Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., the world’s biggest maker of generic medicines.

Plavix had sales of 2.07 billion euros last year. In 2008, France’s national health system paid 625 million euros on the drug, the most of any pharmaceutical, the competition regulator said.

Sanofi’s sales force cast doubt on the efficacy of competing generics in conversations with doctors and pharmacists in 2009 and 2010, and warned that they could be liable if patients had medical problems after using the copies, according to the statement.

Sanofi urged doctors to write on prescriptions that the generic version couldn’t be substituted for the branded product, the competition regulator said. The Paris-based company also urged pharmacists, when using a generic, to use Sanofi’s own generic rather than one from a competitor, according to the statement.

“Sanofi disagrees with the Competition Authority’s decision, and is currently reviewing all the points to prepare an appeal before the Paris appeals court,” the company said in an e-mailed statement. “The safety of patients is Sanofi’s first priority.”

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