For example, in Australia, our patent on clopidogrel was ultimately held invalid. Any payments under these licenses may reduce our profits from such products and we may not be able to obtain these licenses on favorable terms or at all. We have increased the proportion of biological therapeutics in our pipeline relative to traditional small molecule pharmaceutical products. Typically, biological therapeutics face third party intellectual property rights, otherwise known as freedom to operate FTO issues, more than small molecule therapeutics because of the types of patents allowed by national patent offices.
Further, our ability to successfully challenge third party patent rights is dependent on the laws of national courts. Certain countries have laws that provide stronger bases for challenging third party patent rights compared to the laws that are available to challenge patents in other countries. Therefore, we may be able to invalidate a certain third party patent in one country but not invalidate counterpart patents in other countries.
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Third parties may also request a preliminary or a permanent injunction in a country from a court of law to prevent us from marketing a product if they consider that we infringe their patent rights in that country. If third parties obtain a preliminary or permanent injunction from a court of law or if we fail to obtain a required license for a country where the valid third-party intellectual property right, as confirmed by a court of law, exists or if we are unable to alter the design of our technology to fall outside the scope of third-party intellectual property rights, we may be unable to market some of our products in certain countries, which may limit our profitability.
Even in cases where we ultimately prevail in an infringement claim, legal remedies available for harm caused to us by infringing products may be inadequate to make us whole. Additionally, while we would be entitled to obtain damages in such a case, the amount that we may ultimately be awarded and able to collect may be insufficient to compensate all harm caused to us.
We expect to face increasing competition from biosimilars in the future. With the accelerated regulatory pathways provided in the US and Europe for biosimilar drug approval, biosimilars can be a threat to the exclusivity of any biological therapeutics we sell or may market in the future and can pose the same issues as the small molecule generic threat described above. Product liability claims could adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition.
Product liability is a significant risk for any pharmaceutical company, and our product liability exposure could increase given that liability claims relating to our businesses may differ with regards to their nature, scope and level, from the types of product liability claims that we have handled in the past. Often, establishing the full side effect profile of a pharmaceutical drug goes beyond data derived from preapproval clinical studies which may only involve several hundred to several thousand patients. Following any of these events, pharmaceutical companies can face significant product liability claims.
In cases where we self-insure, the legal costs that we would bear for handling such claims and potential indemnifications to be paid to claimants could have a negative impact on our financial condition. Due to insurance conditions, even when the Company has insurance coverage, recoveries from insurers may not be totally successful.
Substantial product liability claims could materially adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition. Obtaining marketing authorization is a long and highly regulated process requiring us to present extensive documentation and data to the regulatory authorities.
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Regulatory processes differ from one authority to another. Either at the time of the filing of the application for a marketing authorization or later during its review, each regulatory authority may impose its own requirements which can evolve over time, including requiring local clinical studies, and it may delay or refuse to grant approval, even though a product has already been approved in another country. This resulted in a three-month delay of the approval date.
Even after regulatory approval, marketed products are subject to continual review, risk evaluations or comparative effectiveness studies including post-marketing studies to which at times we have committed as a condition of approval. In addition, following the implementation of European pharmacovigilance legislation in , the Company and the European Regulatory Agencies under the supervision of the PRAC Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee have reinforced their systematic and intensive safety signal detection systems, which may detect safety issues even with mature products that have been on the market for a considerable time.
This system may result in additional market authorization suspensions or withdrawals. All of these requirements have increased the costs associated with maintaining regulatory approvals and achieving reimbursement for our products. Moreover, to monitor our compliance with applicable regulations, the FDA, the EMA and comparable agencies in other jurisdictions routinely conduct inspections of our facilities and may identify potential deficiencies. In addition, in order to comply with our duty to report adverse safety signals to regulatory authorities, we must regularly train our employees and third parties such as external sales forces and distributor employees on regulatory matters.
If we fail to train these people, or fail to train them appropriately, we may be exposed to the risk that safety events are not reported or not reported in a timely manner in breach of our reporting obligations. To the extent that new regulations raise the costs of obtaining and maintaining product authorizations, or limit the economic value of a new product to its originator, the growth prospects of our industry and of Sanofi would be diminished.
These constraints and costs could adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition. Claims and investigations relating to compliance, competition law, marketing practices, pricing and other legal matters could adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition. The marketing of our products is heavily regulated. We have adopted a Code of Ethics that calls for employees to comply with applicable legislation and regulations, as well as with the specific principles and rules of conduct set forth in that Code.
Governments and regulatory authorities around the world have been strengthening implementation and enforcement activities in recent years, including in relation to anti-bribery, anti-corruption, and data privacy legislation. The Company also faces litigation and government investigations or audits, including allegations of corruption, claims related to employment matters, patent and intellectual property disputes, consumer law claims and tax audits.
Unfavorable outcomes in any of these matters, or in similar matters to be faced in the future, could preclude the commercialization of products, harm our reputation, negatively affect the profitability of existing products and subject us to substantial fines including treble damages and fines based on our sales , punitive damages, penalties and injunctive or administrative remedies, potentially leading to the imposition of additional regulatory controls, monitoring or self-reporting obligations, or exclusion from government reimbursement programs or markets.
All of this could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations or financial condition. Changes in the laws or regulations that apply to us could affect our business, results of operations and financial condition. All aspects of our business, including research and development, manufacturing, marketing, pricing and sales, are subject to extensive legislation and governmental regulation. For example, governmental authorities are increasingly looking to facilitate generic and biosimilar competition to existing products through new regulatory proposals intended to achieve, or resulting in, changes to the scope of patent or data exclusivity rights and use of accelerated regulatory pathways for generic and biosimilar drug approvals.
This new competitive environment and the potential regulatory changes may further limit the exclusivity enjoyed by innovative products on the market and directly impact pricing, access and reimbursement levels, which may adversely affect our business and future results. In addition to international tax law and regulatory changes such as the OECD BEPS initiatives and EU directives still to be adopted, changes in tax frameworks, tax reforms and other changes to the way existing tax laws are applied in jurisdictions and major countries where Sanofi and its subsidiaries and affiliates operate could affect our income, our effective tax rate, and consequently our future net income.
Additionally, due to the complexity of the fiscal environment, the ultimate resolution of any tax matters may result in payments greater or lesser than amounts accrued. Risks Relating to Our Business. Our research and development efforts may not succeed in adequately renewing our product portfolio. Discovering and developing a new product is a costly, lengthy and uncertain process.
To be successful in the highly competitive pharmaceutical industry, we must commit substantial resources each year to research and development in order to develop new products to compensate for the decreasing sales of our products facing expiry of patents and regulatory data exclusivity or competition from new products of. Our industry is driven by the need for constant innovation, but we may spread ourselves across too many areas of inquiry to be successful and may not be able to improve internal research productivity sufficiently to sustain our pipeline.
We may also fail to invest in the right technology platforms, therapeutic areas, and product classes to build a robust pipeline and fulfill unmet medical needs.
Fields of discovery, particularly biotechnology, are highly competitive and characterized by significant and rapid technological changes. This process is conducted in various stages in order to test, along with other features, the efficacy, effectiveness and safety of a product. There can be no assurance that any of these product candidates will be proven safe or effective. Decisions concerning the studies to be carried out can have a significant impact on the marketing strategy for a given product.
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Our ongoing investments in new product launches and research and development for future products could therefore result in increased costs without a proportionate increase in revenues, which would negatively affect our operating results and profitability. After marketing approval of our products, other companies or investigators, whether independently or with our authorization, may conduct studies or analysis beyond our control that may ultimately report results negatively affecting our sales either permanently or temporarily and it may take time for Sanofi to address the reported findings, leading among other things to a material adverse impact on sales.
The pricing and reimbursement of our products is increasingly affected by decisions of governments and other third parties and cost reduction initiatives. The commercial success of our existing products and our product candidates depends in part on their pricing and the conditions under which our products are reimbursed.
Our products continue to be subject to increasing price and reimbursement pressure due inter alia to:. This law also imposed rebates and fees on pharmaceutical companies. Government price reporting obligations are complex, and we face risks related to the reporting of pricing data that could affect the reimbursement of and discount provided for our products to US government healthcare programs. In certain countries, including countries in the European Union, China and Canada, the coverage of prescription drugs, and pricing and levels of reimbursement, are subject to governmental control.
For example, in Europe various authorities are developing the use of tenders for expensive products and are considering joint procurement mechanisms to negotiate lower prices. We are also unable to predict the availability or level of reimbursement and related restrictions for our product candidates.
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The concentration of the US market exposes us to greater pricing pressure. This can lead to price discounts or rebates in connection with the placement of products. Due to these pressures on our prices, our revenues and margins are, and could continue to be, negatively affected. We may lose market share to competing therapeutic options, biosimilar or generic products. We are faced with intense competition from generic products, biosimilars and brand-name drugs including from retail chains and distributors. The success of any product also depends on our ability to educate patients when permissible and promote our products to healthcare providers by providing them with innovative data about the product and its uses including through the use of digital tools.
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If these education efforts are not effective, we may not be able to increase the sales of our products or realize the full value of our investment in their development. We may not be able to anticipate precisely the date of market entry of generics or biosimilars or the potential impact on our sales, both of which depend on numerous parameters. The introduction of a generic version of a. Also mandatory price regulations apply in certain countries to off-patent products and classes of products, and generics prices are taken into account for international reference pricing and tenders.
Substitution is often permitted for generic products that are considered to be interchangeable or clinically identical. In many European countries, automatic substitution of biologics is officially prohibited or not recommended. Approval of a generic or biosimilar that is substitutable for one of our products would increase the risk of accelerated market penetration by that generic or biosimilar to a greater extent than would be the case for a non-substitutable product.
A substantial share of the revenue and income of Sanofi continues to depend on the performance of certain flagship products. Nevertheless our actual sales may differ from these expectations given the numerous underlying assumptions. Our flagship products benefit from certain intellectual property protections such as patents and exclusivity periods but patent and proprietary rights, even if they are not challenged, are subject to expiration dates. Many of our products are manufactured using technically complex processes requiring specialized facilities, highly specific raw materials and other production constraints.
Third parties supply us with a substantial portion of our raw materials, active ingredients and medical devices, which exposes us to the risk of a supply shortage or interruption in the event that these suppliers are unable to manufacture our products to Sanofi quality standards or if they experience financial difficulties. Any of these factors could adversely affect our business, operating results or financial condition.
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