Sanofi Will Cooperate in China Review After Bribery Report

Sanofi, France’s largest drugmaker, will cooperate with a review of its business in China, after a newspaper reported a whistle-blower’s allegations of bribery.

Sanofi is “committed to cooperating with the authorities in any review they undertake regarding these allegations,” it said in a statement dated Aug. 10.

A whistle-blower said Sanofi paid about 1.69 million yuan ($276,000) in bribes to 503 doctors in the country, the 21st Century Business Herald reported on Aug. 8. The payments were made in the cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou and Guangzhou around November 2007, said the newspaper, which is based in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou.

The National Health and Family Planning Commission has instructed local health authorities to investigate allegations that Sanofi bribed doctors, the official Xinhua News Agency reported Aug. 10. Chinese authorities are cracking down on malfeasance in the health-care industry, accusing GlaxoSmithKline Plc of economic crimes and fining Johnson & Johnson for monopolistic practices.

Sanofi didn’t elaborate on the events or allegations it referred to in its statement, saying only that it is “aware of the publication of allegations coming from a whistleblower referring to events that may have occurred in 2007.”

Clare Xu, a communications manager for Sanofi China, sent the Aug. 10 statement by e-mail after being asked to comment on the newspaper report today. “It would be premature to comment on events that may or may not have occurred in 2007,” Paris-based Sanofi said, repeating a stance it made in an Aug. 8 statement.

Sanofi Chief Executive Officer Chris Viehbacher said on an Aug. 1 conference call that Chinese authorities visited one of the company’s regional offices in Shenyang on July 29 for unknown purposes. Eli Lilly & Co. also said it had been visited by regulators.

Novo Nordisk A/S, the world’s biggest maker of insulin, last week said Chinese authorities visited its office in Tianjin in northern China on Aug. 1.

— With assistance by Michael Wei, and Xin Zhou

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