| NEW YORK, March 20
NEW YORK, March 20 A U.S. judge certified on
Wednesday a class of investors who have filed a lawsuit accusing
Sanofi of misleading them about the status of
regulatory approval for a failed anti-obesity pill.
U.S. District Judge George Daniels in Manhattan said
investors in Sanofi's American depositary receipts could proceed
together as a group in the litigation.
Representatives for the company, formerly known as
Sanofi-Aventis, did not respond to a request for comment.
The lawsuit centers on the drug rimonabant, which was
marketed as Acomplia in Europe and branded as Zimulti in the
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration had questioned the
drug's safety in 2006. Concerns about the possible link between
the drug and suicidal thoughts resulted in an FDA advisory
committee's decision to not recommend that the agency approve
the drug for marketing.
Sanofi's share prices dropped following the news, according
to the lawsuit. Investors sued in 2007, saying the company and
two executives misled shareholders about the drug's development.
The decision Wednesday appeared to be one of the first to
benefit from a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Feb. 27 in a case
against Amgen Inc that held investors don't need to
establish the materiality of alleged misinformation in order to
sue as a group.
Sanofi had sought to show the alleged misstatements in its
case weren't material, but withdrew that portion of its argument
following the U.S. Supreme Court's 6-3 decision.
The class certified on Wednesday covers only investors in
Sanofi's American depository receipts - not its common stock.
Daniels refused to allow one of the two lead plaintiffs, New
England Carpenters Guaranteed Annuity Fund, from serving as a
class representative as it owned only Sanofi common stock, which
is traded on Euronext.
Daniels made that decision in light of the 2010 U.S. Supreme
Court ruling that restricted the ability of investors to bring
lawsuits in U.S. courts involving companies traded on foreign
Sanofi had 1.3 billion common shares outstanding from
February 2006 to June 2007, the time of the alleged fraud,
according to the plaintiffs. It had 241.4 million ADRs, the
plaintiffs said in court papers, which identified the defendant
as Sanofi-Aventis, as the company was known then. In 2011, the
company changed its name to Sanofi.
The other lead plaintiff, Hawaii Annuity Trust for Operating
Engineers, was appointed class representative.
Daniels also named Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd as class
Trig Smith, a lawyer for the plaintiffs at Robbins Geller,
The case is In re Sanofi-Aventis Securities Litigation, U.S.
District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 07-10279.