We’ve covered the French Sunshine Act, which requires French pharmaceutical companies to disclose their links to healthcare providers, extensively over the past few years and most recently here. France on the whole, however, has been lagging behind many other countries when it comes to anti-corruption laws. It looks like that’s about to change in ways that could have considerable impact for life sciences companies operating in the country.

France has started examining draft legislation which proposes creating a national anti-corruption agency to replace the Central Service for the Prevention of Corruption (SCPC). The SCPC currently has neither investigative nor fining powers. The new agency would be in charge of investigating whistle-blower reports, carrying out related investigations, and monitoring the implementation of specific compliance programs. It would also have the power to sanction.

The draft legislation proposes several other key changes, including:

  • The creation of a national register of lobbyists, similar to what the French Sunshine Act requires from the pharmaceutical industry. Interest group representatives would have to disclose their identity and the scope of their lobbying activities to the High Authority for Transparency in Public Life.
  • A legal status for whistle-blowers that would prohibit any dismissal or discrimination in cases where their statements had been relied on by the national anti-corruption agency.
  • The creation of a new criminal offense for failure to put into place a compliance program (similar to the UK Bribery Act).
  • A considerable increase in fines.
  • The option for French companies convicted of corruption to negotiate a fine with the public prosecutor instead of being pursued criminally.

For more information on this draft legislation, read our recent Client Alert, “A ‘French Bribery (and Sunshine) Act’ is about to be launched – a legal revolution is underway in France.”