Sanofi accused of firing paralegal whistleblower

A recent former paralegal for Sanofi SA, a French drug maker, claims that she was fired after objecting to an alleged bribing strategy to sell more insulin medications in the United States. Drug manufacturer employees in Wisconsin might have heard about the reportedly illegal activity.

The lawsuit claims that the paralegal’s role in the diabetes division consisted of approving vendor contracts and ensuring that they meet federal health care legislation. It also states that Sanofi, the now former CEO and more than 10 executives paid consultants to persuade pharmacists to fill generic insulin prescriptions with its brand-name insulin instead of insulin from its competitor Novo Nordisk.

The paralegal says that she endured retaliation from supervisors for months after she would not approve nine contracts in March 2013 that involved the bribery scheme. She allegedly told the manager that she was unable to approve the agreements because they were already signed, which was inappropriate before she could review them. These contracts totaled around $34 million, but the woman’s lawyer says that no services were being provided, and the consultants were using the funds to push top-selling Sanofi insulin brands at doctors’ offices, pharmacies and hospitals.

The lawsuit states that a supervisor told the paralegal that the CEO and diabetes division vice president knew about her holding up the contracts. When she refused to sign, Sanofi launched an internal investigation. A manager said at the time of her firing in mid-October that it was the result of her whistleblowing. The woman is seeking an undisclosed sum of compensatory and punitive damages and other expenses.

The Whistleblower Protection Program enforces provisions that afford rights to employees who participate in reporting work-related illnesses, injuries or deaths, statute violations and others. Victimized employees may seek legal action against their employer with the assistance of an attorney.

Source: ABC News, “Paralegal: Sanofi Fired Her for Whistleblowing”, Linda A. Johnson, December 05, 2014

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