French authorities have opened a formal investigation into two managers from drugs groups GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi Pasteur. Judge Marie-Odile Bertella-Geffroy also opened an investigation for manslaughter against Sanofi Pasteur MSD, a joint venture between Sanofi Aventis and Merck.
The investigations follow allegations that the companies did not fully disclose side effects from an anti-hepatitis B drug used in a vaccination campaign in the 1990’s.
From 1994 to 1998, almost two thirds of the French population, and almost all newborns, were vaccinated against hepatitis B. The campaign was suspended after concerns arose about side effects.
Some 30 plaintiffs have launched a civil action, including the families of five people who died after receiving vaccinations.