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After some big setbacks, Sanofi talks up its R&D portfolio

Hopes its pipeline of 71 projects delivers strong sales

Sanofi

French pharma company Sanofi is hosting an R&D update today that will try to show that its in-house R&D can deliver the goods as a longstanding antibody alliance with Regeneron comes to an end.

Sanofi said in a preview of the event this morning that its pipeline currently has 71 projects, including 37 new molecular entities and novel vaccines, with nine potential marketing applications in the next 18 months. Meanwhile, ten pivotal phase III trials due to start in the next 12 months in its core therapeutic areas of immunology and multiple sclerosis, oncology, diabetes/cardiovascular, vaccines and rare diseases.

The company has been refocusing its R&D in a number of ways, shifting towards biologics from small-molecule drugs, putting a greater emphasis on multi-targeting compounds and develop more medicines on its own rather than licensing them in, according to chief executive Olivier Brandicourt.

The latter shift was made apparent when Sanofi and Regeneron said earlier this year they intend to end their ten-year-old alliance - which has delivered marketed products including anti-PCSK9 antibody Praluent (alirocumab) for cholesterol-lowering, IL4 inhibitor Dupixent (dupilumab) for eczema and IL-6 blocker arthritis treatment Kevzara (sarilumab) as well as a clutch of late-stage pipeline projects - before the end of the year.

Sanofi is highlighting half a dozen phase IIII programmes in the update, including dupilumab as a treatment for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), oral GCS inhibitor venglustat for polycystic kidney disease, and once-weekly GLP-1 agonist efpeglenatide for diabetes.

It also has high hopes for alemtuzumab in primary progressive MS, Regeneron-partnered cemiplimab for first-line non-small cell lung cancer and SAR425899, a GLP-1/GCR dual agonist that is being tested in obesity.

“We are confident this portfolio will be the foundation for Sanofi’s future long-term growth,” said Brandicourt, who has insisted in recent months that the company should grow organically and eschew a large-scale merger - an option preferred by some analysts and investors - in favour of bolt-on acquisitions. However, it has tried and failed to make two pipeline-boosting acquisitions of late, losing out out to rivals bidding for Actelion and Medivation.

And the annual R&D day comes at a difficult couple of weeks for the company, in the wake of major problems for its dengue fever vaccine Dengvaxia - once tipped as a blockbuster but now looking to be a liability as its sales are suspended in the Philippines - and the termination of a Clostridium difficile vaccine.

Sanofi needs its pipeline to deliver some big-selling products as it faces a slowdown in diabetes sales following the loss of patent protection for blockbuster Lantus (insulin glargine) and increased competition driving down insulin prices.

Article by
Phil Taylor

13th December 2017

From: Research

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