Press review

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Sanofi employees 'angry' with yet another restructuring plan

PARIS, 3 July (APM) - Sanofi employees are "angry" with yet another round of job cuts, reported Le Monde on Monday (p.12).
Following the announcement of a new strategic road map on Friday 26 June to include job cuts, employee unions CFDT and CGT said they found the plan unthinkable and the job cuts shameful. Meanwhile, the French government said it would be watching Sanofi vigilantly to ensure there were no forced job losses and that no factories close (APMHE 67939).
The paper pointed out that the announced job cuts did not seem in step with Sanofi's recent announcement that it will open a vaccine factory in France and a slap for President Macron who said the state would provide €200 million in funding for pharma companies - including Sanofi - working on Covid-19 vaccines.
CFDT union rep Aline Eysseric criticised the company for making the announcement while most employees are still working from home and unable to discuss the issue with colleagues. She is also quoted in the paper as saying the job cuts would never stop, as the announcement comes just after the completion of a restructuring plan, cutting almost 470 jobs which was announced June 2019.
Given the company had sales of almost €9 billion in Q1 of 2020 - growing by 7% - and that the company has not gone back on its decision to pay out €4 billion in dividends, tension will only grow between Sanofi and its employee unions, the paper concluded.
L'Humanite (p.12) also covered the story on Monday.

Sanofi's job cuts

Sanofi presented its restructuring plan to French employees on Monday, reported Les Echos on the same day (p.16), which stated the company is looking to shed 750 - 1,060 posts out of 23,130 (APMHE 67988).
Head of Sanofi France Olivier Bogillot was quoted as saying that the majority of jobs to go would be permanent positions and that redundancies would be voluntarily only.
The paper noted that support functions - in the Sanofi Aventis Group business - and R&D would be the most heavily affected, following the company's announcement moves to outsource support functions to Hungary in April 2019.
Industrial affairs was also set to be affected - even as Sanofi is set to invest €1 billion in the sector with €650 million to go on vaccines alone.
Sanofi was also to announce 950 internal and external hires, to replace retired employees.

French state found partly responsible in case of Depakine causing disabilities in children

The French state has been found partly responsible in the legal case of Sanofi's epilepsy drug Depakine (sodium valproate), report various newspapers on Friday.
According to La Croix (p.19), the French state is 20-40% responsible for the mental and physical disabilities in children caused by their mothers taking Depakine during pregnancy. Sanofi and prescribers share the remaining responsibility (APMHE 68022).
As a result, reports Le Figaro (p.19), the state will pay out compensation of €20,000; €200,000 and €290,000 to three families whose children are significantly handicapped due to Depakine.
However, the legal case is not yet over, as victims say the state knew about potential mental adverse events before 2004. The ruling however, might exclude children born before this date who developed mental disorders.
L'Humanité (p.9) and Le Parisien (p.8) also cover the story on Friday.

Gilead sets remdesivir price at $2,340

In an open letter, Gilead's chief executive Daniel O'Day announced that the company has set the price for its Covid-19 treatment remdesivir at $390 per vial, equal to $2,340 for a six-vial treatment, reported Les Echos on Wednesday (p.19).
He added that this would be the suggested price for all developed countries where the treatment is approved - which at the time of writing was the U.S. with approval in Europe likely in the following days - in order to minimise the need for negotiation (APMHE 67943).
The company has signed agreements with generics manufacturers so the drug can be available at a lower price for developing countries.
There are arguments over this set price - with patient associations stating it is too high for a drug that has no impact on mortality rates and that Gilead benefitted from public money while developing it. However, U.S. analysts say that at this price, it is unlikely Gilead will be able to recover its costs on developing and manufacturing the drug - let alone see a positive impact on its sales.
Meanwhile, U.S. health technology assessment (HTA) institute ICER initially said remdesivir's price could go as high as €5,000, but after the discovery of dexamethasone's clinical benefits, revised remdesivir's acceptable price down to $2,520.

Merck KGaA subpoenaed by Levothyrox victims

Merck KGaA has been subpoenaed to appear in court by about 50 victims of its new Levoythrox (levothyroxine) formula, reported Le Parisien (p.14) and La Croix (p.15) in briefs on Tuesday.
The victims are looking for compensation of about €5,000 each for lack of information, and additional compensation on a case by case basis for bodily harm, according to their lawyer.

New Sanofi board member

A new board member was appointed during Sanofi’s general assembly - Lise Kingo - reported Les Echos on Monday in a wider article on women joining company boards (p.35).
The paper stated that Kingo - currently chief executive and executive director of the United Nations (UN) Global Compact - is interested in sustainable development and it is expected that Sanofi’s board will start to concentrate on this topic following influence.
Kingo previously worked for international companies such as JP Bureau and Novo Industries holding positions within internal auditing, compliance, marketing and human resources before moving to the UN in 2015.
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