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Chinese whistleblower says France's Sanofi bribed doctors to up sales

media An employee enters pharmaceutical company Sanofi in Shanghai. Reuters/Aly Song

French pharmaceutical company Sanofi says it is taking seriously the claims that its staff bribed more than 500 Chinese doctors with thousands of euros, six years ago. A whistleblower has told a Chinese newspaper that Sanofi staff paid off the doctors in an attempt to increase sales.


The whistleblower, who would not reveal his identity other than using the pseudonym “Piegun” or “bacon” in Chinese, provided four documents to China’s 21st Century Business Herald newspaper. The report shows that Sanofi paid a total of 1.71 million yuan, or 280,000 euros, to doctors in 79 hospitals in 2007.

Most of the payments were made to hospitals in Beijing, Shanghai, the southern city of Guangzhou and Hangzhou in the east. The payments were categorised as “research expenses,” according to the report.

Sanofi allegedly paid doctors 90 yuan, or 13 euros, every time patients bought one of its products. The largest payout was reportedly 11,200 yuan.

Sanofi has responded by saying it has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to unethical practice. A company statement said: “Sanofi has established processes in place for reviewing and addressing such issues in a manner that is consistent with our legal and ethical obligations.

The company has not announced whether or not it is investigating the allegations but said they were taking them "very seriously."

Last week, a Sanofi office in China was visited by officials, but the company said it did not know the purpose of the inquiry.

The allegations against the French company come after four executives from British drugs giant GlaxoSmithKline were arrested for alleged bribery last month.

A top Chinese economic planner is currently investigating 60 foreign and domestic pharmaceutical companies over their prices.


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