- In October 2014, former Sanofi CEO Chris Viehbacher was terminated from his position amid flagging drug sales, allegedly for "poor communication skills" with the board.
- In December, a former Sanofi paralegal, Diane Ponte, sued Sanofi for being forced out after she uncovered evidence of wrongdoing involving consultants, pharmacy groups, and hospitals. The suit alleged that tens of millions of dollars flowed to pharmacy groups and hospitals through consultants Accenture and Deloitte. It also alleges that a billion dollars is unaccounted for in Sanofi's books. Allegedly, the goal was to increase sales of Sanofi's diabetes drugs.
- Now lawyers are framing the entire sequence of events as a "kickback scheme" and seeking shareholder-plaintiffs to sue Sanofi, not only because of alleged efforts to illegally boost sales of Sanofi's diabetes drugs, but because of the actions that led to Chris Viebacher's departure.
While many will write this off as a fishing expedition, it is still possible that the lawyers may be able to gain traction in a lawsuit. The lawyers involved in these efforts are aggressively sending out press releases and reminding potential plaintiffs of a February 2 deadline.
Meanwhile, Sanofi is vigorously denying the allegations and characterizing Ponte, who filed for violations of New Jersey state employment law through the Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA), as a "disgruntled former employee." Within several weeks, more information will be available about the likelihood of an shareholder suit against Sanofi.