A blow to victims of Dépakine: the Sanofi laboratory, which markets the treatment, refused to take part in the compensation fund for victims. According to the company, only the state is responsible for this health scandal. Sanofi "cannot respond" to the first compensation notices sent by the National Office for Compensation for Medical Accidents (Oniam), according to a statement by the French pharmaceutical giant made public on January 16.
The laboratory reported that it informed the authorities
The laboratory defends itself by stating, in particular, that it has "informed the authorities in complete transparency" about the risks of Depakine for pregnant women, as scientific knowledge advances. Since the late 80s, the health authorities have even repeatedly "rejected Sanofi's requests, which aimed, based on the evolution of scientific knowledge, to mention in the package insert the risks to the fetus that could be related to the prescription of this medicine as part of a pregnancy. " A statement that Sanofi could not make without the authorities, whose approval is essential for changing information about a drug.
From the 1967, Depakine and its derivatives they caused severe congenital malformations between 2.150 and 4.100 children, according to a 2017 assessment by the French Agency for Medicine and Health Insurance. Taking into account children with developmental delays (autistic, psychomotor disorders, etc.), there could be 14.000 victims, according to epidemiologist Catherine Hill. Last year, Health Minister Agnès Buzyn said several times that the state would seek Sanofi to help compensate the victims.
"Oniam has kept Sanofi's responsibility up to 70%"
"This position of the laboratory was predictable but still scandalous"
Contrary to what Sanofi claims, the judicial proceedings and Oniam converge to hold responsibility for the laboratory ", reacted Charles Joseph-Oudin, lawyer of APESAC, Vicakine Victims Association. In his first compensation communications "Oniam has kept the state's responsibility up to 30% and Sanofi's up to 70%," he added.
But Sanofi's refusal to pay will not block Oniam's treatment of victims. This can really grab justice to force the hand to the lab. At the same time as Oniam's requests, Sanofi faces several civil requests from the families of the victims. In one of these proceedings before the Orleans Court of Appeal in late 2017, the group was sentenced to pay nearly 3 million euros to the plaintiffs. Sanofi appealed for legal issues.