The Social Security accounts may blush less this year. After having missed the opportunity, in 2019, to be reimbursed 115.9 million euros by Sanofi, the National Health Insurance Fund (Cnam) could well finally grab this sum from the pharmaceutical laboratory. In a judgment of February 9, 2022, the Paris Court of Appeal reversed the decision of the commercial court which had concluded that the action brought by the Cnam was time-barred. It must be said that the dispute is not new….
It all started in 2009, when Sanofi had already been marketing Plavix, a well-known treatment for patients with cardiovascular disease, for more than ten years. This drug is then the fourth best-selling in the world, except that its active ingredient, Clopidogrel, has just had its regulatory protection withdrawn. Thus, cheaper generic versions of Plavix are marketed by other pharmaceutical laboratories. Sanofi decides itself to sell its generic. The problem is that the laboratory has at the same time heavily encouraged doctors and pharmacists to continue to give their preferences to its drugs.
Unsurprisingly, the Competition Authority sanctions these practices by condemning, in 2013, the pharmaceutical group to pay a fine of 41 million euros for “abuse of a dominant position”. If, according to Les Echos, which had revealed the decision of the Paris Commercial Court in 2020, certain laboratories claimed millions of euros before concluding agreements with Sanofi, the Cnam did not negotiate anything then that she was responsible for reimbursing patients for Plavix. And she was slow to drag Sanofi to court and claim 115.9 million euros. His action was only filed in 2017, eight years after the start of the case.
In the end, it is in the annual report of Sanofi, freshly posted on its site, that we discover the judgment of the Paris Court of Appeal. It reads: “On February 9, 2022, the Paris Court of Appeal overturned the judgment of the Paris Commercial Court”. Thus, it considers “that the action of the National Health Insurance Fund (CNAM) is not time-barred and has appointed an expert to decide on the amount of damages.” Cnam confirms the judgment rendered by the Paris Court of Appeal, which Capital was able to consult, specifying that it “acknowledged – on the merits – that Sanofi committed abusive practices constituting misconduct, that these practices had a harmful effect for the Cnam”. The Paris Court of Appeal has indeed “ordered an expertise to quantify the damage of the Cnam, it is specified, on the basis of our quantification hypotheses”. The exact amount of the sum that Sanofi will have to reimburse to Health Insurance is therefore not yet set in stone, but could be closer to the 116 million euros it is claiming.
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