The French prosecutor’s office indicted the pharmaceutical company Sanofi with involuntary manslaughter for the birth defects of up to 30,000 children whose mothers took one of their epilepsy medicines.
The risks of the medication valproate, distributed under the name Depakine among others, to cause birth defects have been known since 1983 and were compounded by learning disabilities and autism in 2004, the Strait Times reported on Aug. 3.
The drug has been prescribed as a treatment for epilepsy, migraines, and bipolar disorder since 1967, but it was found that 10 to 40 percent of pregnant mothers who take it can transfer congenital defects, autism, and learning disabilities to their babies.
“This new accusation is a great victory for the relatives of the Depakine victims who have filed a complaint so that these crimes do not go unpunished,” said the association APESAC, which helps the victims, according to Le Parisien.
APESAC represents 4,000 people, half of whom are sick children, and has decided to sue Sanofi in 2016.
APESAC estimates that the victims could have been “around 50,000 children,” dead or disabled. The association has been warning since 2011 of the dangers of sodium valproate.
In addition, Sanofi is accused by relatives of the victims, in other cases, of aggravated fraud and involuntary injury to 42 patients.
Sanofi argues in its defense that in the 1980s it had warned health authorities of the risks of the drug.
It now plans to challenge the crimes for which it was sued, and said it has “fulfilled its obligation” to warn users about the risks its drugs might pose.
Five hundred claims for damages caused by Sanofi’s drugs were filed with France’s National Agency for Compensation for Medical Accidents, and the state proposes to compensate the victims with $10.5 million.
This same multinational pharmaceutical company is competing in the development of the vaccine against the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) Virus in association with the company GSK of the United Kingdom. The U.S. government will provide $2.9 billion as part of the funding for this project.