The Minister of Health Agnès Firmin Le Bodo, accused of illicit gifts received as part of her profession as a pharmacist, refuted any “conflict of interest” to the AFP. “On the matter to which you are referring, I am very calm,” she declared this Sunday on the sidelines of a visit to the Rouen University Hospital.
The minister is the subject of a judicial investigation for having received, as a pharmacist in Le Havre, gifts from Urgo laboratories, which would have been offered to her from 2015 to 2020 for a total value of 20,000 euros, according to Mediapart, who revealed the affair on December 21. “Like 8,000 of my former colleagues, I will be heard in the so-called Urgo affair. I prefer to respond on the merits to the competent authorities, social networks are not the judges,” she continued.
For Agnès Firmin Le Bodo, in this matter, “there is no conflict of interest, no benefit in kind, no gift, there are commercial negotiations”. Has she considered resigning following these revelations? “Perhaps”, she replied, before repeating that she was “very calm about the merits of the matter”.
The gifts were offered by Urgo in exchange for a waiver by the pharmacist of a commercial discount from the laboratory to the pharmacy: this prohibited practice concerned a large number of pharmacists and the laboratory was sentenced in January 2023 to a fine of 1.125 million of euros – including 625,000 euros suspended – by the Dijon criminal court, after an investigation by the fraud repression (DGCCRF). According to professional sources, the DGCCRF is investigating all pharmacists who accepted these gifts (watches, magnums of champagne, cast iron casserole dish, weekend boxes, etc.).
Appointed after the resignation of Aurélien Rousseau
Agnès Firmin Le Bodo, until then deputy minister responsible for territorial organization and health professions, was named interim Minister of Health on December 20 after the resignation of Aurélien Rousseau for disagreement on immigration law.
The minister also described the controversy over the call for donations for the acquisition of a scanner at the Pompidou hospital in Paris as “sterile”. “Since 2015, the Pompidou hospital has had a foundation which regularly calls for donations,” she recalled. “It’s a system that works well. This makes it possible to support the strong investments of Parisian hospitals […] The State is not disengaging, it is quite the opposite,” assured Agnès Firmin Le Bodo.