Ethics Case Study: Sanofi
Paris pharmaceutical group, Sanofi recently agreed to a settlement figure of over $25 million with U.S Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
This comes after Sanofi were accused of using beneficiaries in Kazakhstan and the Middle East to achieve more business. However, Sanofi did not deny nor admit their guilt with the findings being released but instead opted to agree to pay $17.5 million in disgorgement, $2.7 million in prejudgment interest along with the civil penalty of $5 million. Sanofi stated: “The settlement relates to an investigation by the SEC and U.S Department of Justice” However, the key part of their statement was this: “As part of the settlement, the company neither admits nor denies it engaged in any wrongdoing.”
According to the US SEC statement, that was released moments after the charges were agreed, Sanofi agreed to a cease and desist order along with the hefty financial fines that they were ordered to pay. The illegal payments stretched back from 2007 and carried on gaining illegal business all the way up until 2015.
The statement stated that the operation: “spanned multiple countries and involved bribes to government procurement official and health-care providers to receive tenders and increase prescriptions of the company’s products.” Further evidence was proven that shown that the payments violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) which ensures that bribes are not allowed to foreign officials for the means of business purposes.
Their primary business strategy is in the development, research, manufacturing and marketing of pharmaceuticals- mainly in the prescription market. However, they also do work in developing over the counter medication. Their main areas in this field include the cardiovascular, central nervous system, internal medicine and vaccines.
Sanofi also does work for charity under the umbrella of the Aventis Foundations, formally known as the Hoechst Foundation until 2000. The German charity aims to promote music, theatre, art, higher education and healthcare research.
Bribery in business is far more common than it should be, considering the fact that it is immoral, against ethics and most importantly- illegal. However, it does happen. It involves an attempt to influence the decision of a decision maker in a higher power, such as government officials, trade union bosses or company authority’s figures. Most the time it does involve the handing over of cash, but it could be anything that benefits the decision maker, whether a watch, sex or anything.
But why is it classed an unethical? It is because it amounts to disloyalty. Decision makers begin to decide on decisions for people that they are bribed by, regardless of it is the right thing to do. Bribes are typically there to get the best decision for the person giving it, whether it is a law ruling or cheap drugs or workforce, is the case of pharmaceutical companies. Bribes should not be confused with facilitation payments with the latter meaning that somebody is offered a financial gain to do something which they are obligated to do, such as fix a toilet or installing a television.
The importance in following the ethics cannot be understated, especially in the pharmaceutical business were the rules of conduct are necessary when researching new medications.
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They have a moral responsibility to protect, not only staff members but also research participants from any harm or displeasure. Something that was not nearly the case in the findings by the SEC.