Vaccine Maker Sanofi Pharma Fined Millions For Bribery

Sanofi, a large vaccine and prescription medication producer, has been fined by the SEC for bribery. The charges state that Sanofi subsidiaries in Kazakhstan and the Middle East resorted to bribery as a way to gain business.

U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Sanofi stated, “The settlement relates to an investigation by the SEC and U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) of certain local activities outside the United States and France, namely, in Kazakhstan, Jordan, Lebanon, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Yemen, Oman, the United Arab Emirates and the Palestinian territory during the period 2006 to 2015. As part of the settlement, the company neither admits nor denies it engaged in any wrongdoing.”

The SEC states, “The schemes spanned multiple countries and involved bribe payments to government procurement officials and healthcare providers in order to be awarded tenders and to increase prescriptions of its products. In Kazakhstan, distributors were used as part of a kickback scheme to generate funds from which bribes were paid to officials to ensure that Sanofi was awarded tenders at public institutions. The kickbacks were tracked in internal spreadsheets where they were coded as ‘marzipans.’ In the Middle East, various pay-to-prescribe schemes were used to induce healthcare providers to increase their prescriptions of Sanofi products.”

According to, the settlement, announced by the Securities and Exchange Commission late Tuesday, settles claims that Sanofi officials promised kickbacks—which the company code-named “marzipans”—to Kazakhstani officials for public contracts. Separately, the SEC alleged that Sanofi officials spread bribes through several Middle Eastern countries to get doctors and healthcare providers to subscribe to Sanofi drugs.

The company neither admitted nor denied any wrongdoing as part of the settlement. It has promised to overhaul its internal controls, anti-bribery efforts and to report back to the government on its reform progress for the next two years.


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