One of the front-runners of the COVID-19 vaccine race, giant pharmaceutical company Sanofi Aventis France (SASY.PA), has been charged with manslaughter over congenital disabilities linked to an epilepsy drug valproate, most commonly marketed as Depakine, among other trade names.

Charged with Manslaughter and Fraud

In a report by Reuters, the company has announced Monday, Augt, 3, in French newspaper Le Monde that French prosecutors have indicted them for manslaughter in a long-running case where they were also charged with fraud.

Before the manslaughter charge, the French pharmaceutical company was already charged with aggravated fraud by 42 families that they have unintentionally injured because of the medication.

Nevertheless, the company said in a statement that they have already respected all legal obligations with regards to Depakine and have denied all the charges.

According to Arab News, Sanofi insists that they have already warned health officials of the risks of taking the epilepsy drug in the 1980s.

They also disclosed that they had filed a legal challenge to the indictment.

The news outlet also noted that under the French legal system, trials are not automatic after a charge as prosecutors could decide to drop the case due to lack of evidence.

However, previous studies claimed that the drug valproate or Depakine has adverse effects on newborn babies.

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Past Study Highlights the Drug's Effects

The medication has been around since 1967, but it received a bad reputation after cases of women who took the medication during their pregnancy gave birth to newborn infants with disabilities, with a past study suggesting around 15,000 to 30,000 babies develop disabilities due to the drugs.

The study also found that women who took the medication while pregnant increased the chances of 10% to 40% of giving birth to children with congenital malformations.

The children were also more likely to have learning difficulties and autism.

Since Sanofi has warned the proper health authorities of the risks of the medicine to pregnant women, a French court has ordered the state to pay thousands of euros for damages caused by the scandal, saying that officials should have ensured that pregnant women do not take the drug.

The country's national compensation agency has already proposed 6.5 million euros or around $7.6 million package for Depakine victims.

Furthermore, they have already received another 500 complaints.

Front-runner in the COVID-19 Vaccine Race

The pharma giant is one of the front-runners when it comes to creating the highly-anticipated COVID-19 vaccine that will stop the current pandemic and could hopefully bring the world back to normal after dozens of countries had to lock down their borders and demanded their people to stay inside and only to go out for essential runs to stores and pharmacies.

The company has also secured the biggest COVID-19 vaccine deal with the U.S. government under President Donald J. Trump's regime.

With a deal of $2.1 billion, Sanofi, along with British company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), will be supplying the US with 100 million doses of their experimental coronavirus vaccine once it passes the trials and is good to go.

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This article belongs to TechTimes.

Written by: Nhx Tingson

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