Sanofi ( $SNY ), already facing intense criticism for job cuts in France, now finds itself defending the use of a lobbyist who was a consultant to CEO Chris Viehbacher . The company said it is no longer employing Daniel Vial, who has been caught up in the probe of the offshore bank account of former Budget Minister Jerome Cahuzac. Investigators searched an office Vial had at Sanofi, Bloomberg reports, looking for ties to Cahuzac. They are trying to determine if the account was used by Cahuzac to hide money he received from drug companies. Cahuzac resigned as budget minister last month, after the account was disclosed and he was charged with tax fraud. Sanofi last year was lambasted by a top government official for its decision to eliminate at least 900 high-paying jobs in France. Story ? | More
Any company that can develop a drug even partially effective against Alzheimer's disease will strike a gold mine. One analyst estimates the opportunity to be $20 billion, but most attempts so far have been costly failures. Think Pfizer ( $PFE ) and Johnson & Johnson's ( $JNJ ) bapineuzumab and Eli Lilly's ( $LLY ) solanezumab, both of which flamed out in late-stage trials. Don't think Sanofi?( $SNY ), though, because CEO Chris Viehbacher says the French drugmaker is not interested in going down that path until the science of the disease is better understood. “We really, at best, partially understand the cause of the disease. It's hard to come up with meaningful targets,” he said. Story | More
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CEO Chris Viehbacher steers Sanofi clear of drugs for Alzheimer’s disease
CEO Chris Viehbacher Sanofi CEO Chris Viehbacher has been openly critical of his research operation in Toulouse, France . He said the researchers are costing too much money and haven't developed an important drug in 20 years. The company is building its main development brain trust in Boston around its Genzyme biotech operation. Despite all of that, he can't seem to rid himself of the 600-person Toulouse operation.? By month's end Sanofi ( $SNY ) expects to get the results of a government-sponsored report on whether there is a way to turn the facility into a local cancer-research center or perhaps close it, according to The Wall Street Journal . The center was targeted last year as part of a downsizing in the country that first was slated to eliminate up to 2,500 jobs but ended up with just 900 on the chopping block and uncertainty around the 600 in Toulouse.? French labor laws and the French resistance, so to speak, will make closing Toulouse extremely difficult, as Sanofi execs found out last fall when it first floated that idea. While drugmakers lay off workers by the thousands in the U.S. and elsewhere, closing a 600-person operation in France is something else. The company ran into a buzzsaw of employee protests, political arm twisting and public ridicule. “In France, the politics, the labor laws are extremely different than in other regions,” Elias Zerhouni , an Algerian-born U.S. citizen who leads R&D for Sanofi, told the newspaper. “It means that for sites like Toulouse … anything you want to do differently gets to be a confrontational issue.” French pride is at stake in the fight over the Toulouse site because the jobs there represent the kind of highly paid, high-technology positions that every country wants to provide its most educated citizens. But the company has found that its R&D costs run higher than its peers and it takes the company 20% more time to develop new drugs, WSJ said. More than half of Sanofi's R&D staff is still in France, but Sanofi likes centers in Lyon and Montpellier for specific disciplines like infectious diseases and clinical testing.? While the future of the Toulouse facility remains up in the air, Sanofi is still negotiating with the 900 workers it does plan to let go in the restructuring, The Wall Street Journal reported. Last month, a court ruled that that Sanofi violated labor laws by by not spelling out to unions exactly how many jobs and which ones were to be eliminated, delaying the process again. – read the WSJ piece (sub. req.) Related Articles: French minister backs Sanofi on job-cutting plans Sanofi argues its R&D costs are too high, but backs down on Toulouse Sanofi workers to strike as day of reckoning nears
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Sanofi downsizing in France drags on
Where would Sanofi be without Lantus ? The diabetes drug just keeps on churning up sales growth, quarter after quarter. In the fourth quarter, Lantus products grew by more than 22% to €1.33 billion. For the full year, the drug racked up almost €5 billion. The French drugmaker ( $SNY ) really needed it. Sales dropped by 0.5% on the year, thanks to generic competition for its former flagship products, including the clot-fighters Plavix and Lovenox, and the cancer drug Eloxatin . Profits fell even more–by 7% to €6.20 per share for the year and 24% during the fourth quarter–as those high-margin drugs bit the dust. All to be expected, one analyst pointed out. “2012 was meant to be their trough year,” Nomura's Amit Roy told Bloomberg . The problem is that Sanofi now predicts disappointing earnings for 2013–flat at best, down 5% at worst. The stock dropped 5% on that news. But even the forecast should have been expected, Leerink Swann's Seamus Fernandez said in an investor note. “Weakness in Sanofi shares today looks to be more a reflection of flawed consensus expectations, given the impact of another half year of sustained generic losses (Plavix, Avapro, and Eloxatin) and the recent swift rally in the euro versus most major currencies,” Fernandez noted. CEO Christopher Viehbacher pointed forward to the second half of the year. Growth will return then, he said. And the expected erosion in profits partly includes an investment in that future: the costs associated with launching new medicines, including its latest addition to the diabetes stable, Lyxumia, recently approved in Europe. It's true that Viehbacher's “growth platforms” delivered solid results in 2012–including its diabetes business, which grew by 16.7% to €5.78 billion, fueled by Lantus. Emerging markets, another of Sanofi's growth bets, swelled by 8.3% to €11.14 billion during the year, accounting for almost 32% of net sales. Consumer health, still another, ginned up a 10% gain to more than €3 billion, and Genzyme–the biotech unit Sanofi bought in 2011–grew by 16.9% to €1.78 billion. In all, those growth areas brought in €23.55 billion, or about two-thirds of the company's 2012 sales. Viehbacher quoted 10% growth for those businesses last year, and pointed out that, by the fourth quarter, they represented 70% of Sanofi's revenues. Thing is, Lantus accounted for the lion's share of the diabetes business' growth, and its surge in emerging markets helped those results, too. Can the drug withstand forthcoming competition from Novo Nordisk's ( $NVO ) Tresiba (degludec)? That drug was recently approved in the E.U. and Japan, and recommended for U.S. approval by the FDA's advisors. It's one of Novo's “growth platforms,” so you can be sure that the Danish company will be pushing hard for market share. Sanofi has new drugs to tout and more, it hopes, on the way to market soon. If it can hold off Novo and chalk up some successful launches, then Viehbacher may be saying “I told you so” when 2013 earnings roll around. If not, he'll have a lot more explaining to do. – see the release from Sanofi (pdf) – get the Bloomberg story Related Articles: Novo Nordisk nabs European OK on blockbuster diabetes drug hopeful Light ahead for Sanofi, CEO says, after not-so-bad Q3 Look out, Lantus: Novo's new insulin gets CHMP backing Sanofi CEO Viehbacher boasts of R&D resurgence as FDA takes MS app Sanofi CEO: Look out below, profits are falling
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Swamped with generics, Sanofi rides Lantus to dry land
Sanofi ( $SNY ) CEO Christopher Viehbacher wants you to look past this quarter to better times ahead. “We are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel,” Viehbacher told the media, after announcing that third-quarter profits weren't as low as expected (as quoted by Reuters ). Net income dropped 7.4% to €2.22 billion ($2.9 billion), when analysts had projected, on average, €1.97 billion ($2.55 billion). Extending the less-bad theme, Sanofi changed its full-year forecast by 3 percentage points. It's no longer expecting a 15% drop in earnings, but a 12% decline. “As our growth platforms continue to build steam, we believe this will put Sanofi back on a growth trajectory,” Viehbacher said. Analysts appear to agree. Bernstein's Tim Anderson said the French drugmaker “should be capable of returning to very consistent revenue and EPS growth over the long term, which makes it unique among its peers.” So what are those growth platforms? Diabetes and rare diseases, apparently. Lantus , the diabetes behemoth, grew by 20.7% to almost €1.3 billion ($1.68 billion). Genzyme , the U.S. biotech unit Sanofi bought last year, delivered 22.5% sales growth, thanks to recovery in Fabrazyme supplies. Emerging markets also helped, growing by 6.8% to €2.8 billion ($3.63 billion). The drag, of course, was generic erosion. Plavix , the megablockbuster blood thinner, lost U.S. exclusivity earlier this year, as did the Avapro blood pressure franchise. All together, that amounted to a €469 million ($607 million) hit to net income. Multaq , the atrial fibrillation remedy, continued its disappointing trend with a 9.1% decline. This year “represents the trough year for Sanofi's earnings,” Societe Generale figures. Apparently, Viehbacher would agree. – see the Sanofi release (PDF) – read the Reuters news – get more from Bloomberg Special Report: Sanofi – Top 10 Pharma Layoffs of 2012 Related Articles: Sanofi, Bristol revamp Plavix partnership for post-patent world Top U.S. hospital won't use pricey Sanofi cancer drug Look out, Lantus: Novo's new insulin gets CHMP backing Sanofi stands up for diabetes therapy in crowded GLP-1 contest ?
Sanofi ( $SNY ) and Coca-Cola. Odd couple or match made in commercial heaven? The two companies are engaging in a pilot project to find out. They're collaborating on a line of drinks, called Beautific Oenobiol, aiming to capture health-conscious consumers with claims about improved skin, stronger hair and increased vitality, The Wall Street Journal reports. It's Sanofi's latest foray into consumer health, part of CEO Christopher Viehbacher 's diversification strategy. Preparing for the loss of patents on big drugs such as Plavix and Lovenox , Viehbacher stepped up Sanofi's game in consumer health and veterinary products, while expanding geographically into emerging markets. The drinks business will begin with four products made with mineral water, fruit juice and nutritional ingredients, WSJ says. One would be billed as a hair-and-fingernail strengthener; the rest as aids to weight loss, vitality and skin. If they catch on in France, where they'll be sold in pharmacies, the products could be rolled out across Europe. Sanofi won't be the only Big Pharma hawking health drinks. GlaxoSmithKline ( $GSK ), Viehbacher's former employer, sells sports and nutrition beverages. As the WSJ notes, the news of Sanofi's Coca Cola partnership was aired at a meeting with French union reps about the drugmaker's impending layoffs. Some members were offended by the venture. In light of the big R&D cuts in France, “We find it shocking,” one told the newspaper. – read the WSJ piece (sub. req.) Related Articles: Tanzania, like GlaxoSmithKline, learns delivery tricks from Coke Being more like Coca-Cola takes days out of GSK's pharma supply chain Coca-Cola, software aid HIV drug deliveries Coca-Cola coaches African health officials on drug-and-vax distribution ?
Sanofi boss Chris Viehbacher isn't limiting his global drug giant's emerging market opportunities to China and India –or any of the four BRIC countries for that matter. In an interview with Bloomberg , the Sanofi CEO made it known that he sees growth opportunities in spots such as Colombia, Indonesia and Vietnam. Emerging markets have grown in importance at the Paris-based drug giant ( $SNY ) during Viehbacher's tenure, serving as one of several business-expansion efforts along with novel medicines for diabetes and other ailments, vaccines, animal and consumer health products, as Bloomberg reported. With major investments already made or under way in BRIC countries, such as Brazil and China, expansion in other emerging markets could be in the Big Pharma outfit's future. Viehbacher sees opportunities such as buyouts and partnerships in places such as Colombia and Vietnam as bargains in more mature growth markets like China become less plentiful. China, in fact, is having its own economic issues after years of double-digit growth, a sign that the country's economy is maturing. As Bloomberg reports, Chinese officials are scrambling to keep the economy humming as they face growth numbers not seen since 1990. “I am confident, in the long term, on the growth outlook for China,” Viehbacher said, as quoted by the news service. “We are moving from made in China to created and discovered in China. It's just a normal part of an economic development process that as wages rise, companies have to seek higher value out of the industries.” Viehbacher knows all about the challenges of growth in mature economies. Back home in France, Sanofi plans to axe around 2,000 workers as the company faces generic competition to top-seller Plavix and amid an economic recession in Europe. And U.S. and European healthcare payers have been pushing for lower prices on branded drugs. This forced Sanofi to think carefully about the $45,000 price tag for its newly U.S.-approved MS drug Aubagio . – check out Bloomberg 's article Special Reports: Top Emerging CRO Markets?-?Colombia ?| Christopher Viehbacher – The 25 most influential people in biopharma today Related Articles: Viehbacher up on Boston, emerging markets, down on corporate innovation Sanofi CEO squares off against French gov't over R&D cuts Sanofi sets out to reinvent itself in Genzyme's biotech image Sanofi's Zerhouni rewrites the company playbook on R&D Europe makes Sanofi chief thankful for emerging markets
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Sanofi eyes emerging market buyouts beyond the BRICs
Sanofi?( $SNY ) CEO Chris Viehbacher is betting that an experimental liver cancer drug could make big inroads in China. The company is going ahead with the first human trials of the drug next year. Report
Sanofi eyes Chinese cancer market with early drug trial
One of Chris Viehbacher ‘s favorite themes since he’s taken the helm at Sanofi ( $SNY ) is the woefully low level of R&D productivity in the business and how that has to change. So it’s no surprise that when Forbes magazine recently highlighted the fact that new drugs at some pharma companies could cost as much as $8 billion to $12 billion each, on average, he seized on the numbers and used them to illustrate the industry’s dilemma in a speech yesterday in North Carolina. And he?highlighted Sanofi’s recent decision to join forces with a prominent Boston VC group on a $125 million company launch as a new business model that can work for everyone in biotech. Report
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Sanofi’s Viehbacher spotlights Big Pharma’s new role creating biotechs
Sanofi ( $SNY ) CEO Chris Viehbacher?( photo ) is talking up trial results on his multiple sclerosis hopeful Lemtrada, acquired in his buyout of Genzyme . But advances by other companies are making it difficult for Sanofi to impress analysts with its own prospects. Report
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Is Sanofi destined to be ‘small player’ in MS?