Pharmaceutical Giant Sanofi Pasteur Seeks to Muzzle CREW from Speaking Out
Washington, D.C. — Today, CREW announced it has filed a motion to quash a subpoena served on it by pharmaceutical giant Sanofi Pasteur in connection with a lawsuit doctors have filed against the company alleging anti-competitive practices. CREW has no connection to the lawsuit, Castro, et al. v. Sanofi Pasteur Inc. (D.N.J.), but has asked the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate Sanofi and Merck for prohibiting physicians who buy their pediatric vaccines from buying vaccines from other manufacturers or lose price discounts. Because of this practice, doctors can’t offer children the best or most appropriate vaccines.
CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan stated, “Why would a billion-dollar company like Sanofi go after a tiny non-profit like CREW? Apparently, because CREW exposed Sanofi for seeking higher profits at the expense of children’s health. I can see why Sanofi would spend a lot of money to stop that from getting around.”
CREW first contacted the FTC in 2010 and, after receiving additional information from a whistleblower with first-hand knowledge about the vaccine pricing scheme, sent a second letter to the agency in March 2012. Sometime after CREW sent its 2012 letter, completely independent of CREW, a group of physicians in New Jersey sued Sanofi.
Clearly angered by CREW’s request for an antitrust investigation, Sanofi is spending thousands to have a high-powered New York law firm issue a nuisance subpoena to CREW, forcing CREW to spend scarce resources fighting the multi-billion-dollar company in court. Sanofi issued an incredibly broad subpoena seeking irrelevant information going back four years. Among other things, Sanofi has sought records relating to CREW’s contacts with the media and with the FTC. Sanofi also is trying to use the subpoena to uncover the identity of the whistleblower, who provided detailed information to CREW in return for confidentiality.
Subpoenas issued by other corporations against non-profit organizations in similar circumstances have been quashed by the courts as infringing on First Amendment rights to petition the government and speak out about practices that harm the public.
Sloan continued, “CREW, which has never purchased a single vaccine, has no direct knowledge about the dangerous, anti-competitive practices at issue in the lawsuit. So it seems clear the real goal of the subpoena is to muzzle CREW and other non-profits by scaring them with the prospect of expensive litigation. Too bad for Sanofi, CREW doesn’t scare easily and doesn’t back down from a fight.”