Paralegal: Drugmaker Sanofi fired her for whistleblowing over alleged kickbacks to boost sales

MarketsAssociated Press

A paralegal recently fired by French drugmaker Sanofi has filed a whistleblower lawsuit, claiming she was discharged after protesting an alleged kickback scheme to increase U.S. sales of its medicines.

The lawsuit, filed in New Jersey by Diane Ponte (PON'tee), accuses Sanofi SA, recently ousted CEO Christopher Viehbacher and other executives of paying consultants millions to induce pharmacists to fill prescriptions for generic medicines with brand-name drugs made by Sanofi, rather than a rival.

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Sanofi denies firing Ponte for being a whistleblower, saying she is a "disgruntled former employee who is opportunistically attacking our company."

Ponte was fired in October, two weeks before Sanofi's board ousted Viehbacher, citing slumping sales and problems with his management style. The lawsuit claims his involvement in the alleged fraud was a reason.