By Cristina Roca 
 

Sanofi SA management on Thursday appeared to take back an earlier comment by its CEO that the U.S. could get priority access to a coronavirus vaccine if the pharmaceuticals company succeeds in developing one, after the news sparked outrage in its home country of France.

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe tweeted Thursday that he had spoken to Sanofi Chairman Serge Weinberg, adding that Mr. Weinberg had given him "all the necessary assurances regarding the distribution in France of an eventual Sanofi vaccine."

The tweet came after Sanofi Chief Executive Paul Hudson said in an interview with Bloomberg published Wednesday that, if Sanofi manages to find a vaccine for the coronavirus, Americans would likely get it before the rest of the world because the U.S. was first to fund the French company's vaccine research.

The report triggered a backlash in Sanofi's home country.

"It would be unacceptable that a country would get privileged access [to the vaccine] under the pretext of financial reasons," French Secretary of State for Economy and Finance Agnes Pannier-Runacher told Sud Radio on Thursday morning.

Sanofi appeared to have changed its position Thursday when President of Sanofi France Olivier Bogillot, speaking on French business news channel BFM, said he couldn't confirm that the U.S. would get priority access to the vaccine.

"It's evident that if Sanofi discovers a treatment or vaccine against Covid-19 and it's effective, it will be accessible to everyone," the Sanofi executive said.

Mr. Bogillot said the U.S. was very quick to financially support its research for the vaccine against the virus, which will require "hundreds of millions of euros." He added the company is in talks with the European Union and individual member states of the bloc to receive financial support from them, too.

 

Write to Cristina Roca at cristina.roca@dowjones.com; @_cristinaroca

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

May 14, 2020 09:24 ET (13:24 GMT)

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