Sanofi halts manufacturing amid pollution claims at French plant

By Flora Southey

- Last updated on GMT

(Image: Getty/steved_np3)
(Image: Getty/steved_np3)
Sanofi has suspended production at a French manufacturing facility it says released solvents into the atmosphere.

On Monday July 9, Sanofi Chimie stopped manufacturing operations at its Mourenx plant, located near the Spanish border in France, to make technology improvements “essential for a return to a normal situation.”

The French pharmaceutical company discovered the site was emitting solvents in 2017. One such solvent, bromopropane, is used to make its anti-convulsant drug Depakine (valproic acid).

Sanofi’s announcement follows a report from environmental foundation France Nature Environment (FNE) – published​ one day earlier on July 8 – condemning the pollution and requesting the site’s closure.

According to FNE, the Mourenx site emits 7,000 times the authorised amount of compounds into the atmosphere. The report linked bromopropane to respiratory issues, skin and eye irritations, as well as cancer and foetal abnormalities.

However, according to Sanofi Chimie, a third-party health impact study “showed no exposure to the surrounding population at levels higher than the thresholds set by French regulations.”

FNE has also claimed Sanofi was aware of the plant’s excessive emissions six months prior to alerting authorities. The company should have signalled the issue immediately, it stated.

Sanofi did not comment whether ceasing manufacturing operations would affect drug supply. 

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