CEO 'reconnected' with Sanofi heritage, says departing chair

Departing Sanofi-Aventis Chairman Jean-François Dehecq says the French drugmaker is "reconnected" with its roots, thanks to CEO Chris Viehbacher's (photo) efforts since assuming that role in 2008. And, in a summing-up interview with the Financial Times, Dehecq didn't shy away from expressing regret that ex-chief Gérard Le Fur (photo) had ever held the CEO post.

Luckily, things are better now: "After a difficult passage, we have a policy of openness to the exterior," Dehecq told the paper. "Chris has reconnected with our history."

But Dehecq's overarching theme was one of "economic nationalism," the FT reports. Dehecq called on Europe to support its pharma citizens and keep key production capacity within its borders: "In Europe, it's important to have a big pharma industry," he said. "The Chinese are starting to do it. Europe can't afford to be without ... in a more and more nationalistic world."

Dehecq cited last fall's flu pandemic--and the scramble for vaccinations--as an example. The EU should look to its regulatory framework to be more supportive of the industry, he said, given the strategic importance of life-saving pharmaceutical products. What do you think? Is domestic pharma manufacturing a security issue? Let us know.

- read the FT piece