Sanofi to Exit Diabetes and Cardiovascular Research

Company will shift focus to cancer research and other more lucrative indications.

Although Sanofi has a top-selling insulin product on the market, overall its diabetes business –– and cardiovascular too –– has contributed noticeably declining percentages to the company’s revenues in recent years. New CEO Paul Hudson has indicated he will be focusing more on cancer, including immune-oncology candidates.

That shift is reflected in the recent $2.5 billion acquisition of immune-oncology company Synthorx, whose lead candidate THOR-707 is an interleukin-2 form being developed as a potential treatment for solid tumors. The last large acquisition ($11.6 billion) made by Sanfoi was in January 2017 for Bioverative, a spin-out of Biogen with a focus on hemophilia.

In addition to oncology and hemophilia, other areas of primary importance to Sanofi’s new strategy include hematology, rare diseases, and neurology. Candidates in its pipeline include the RNAi treatment fitusiran for hemophilia, a selective estrogen receptor degrader for hormone receptor–positive breast cancer, and multiple sclerosis candidate BTKi.

Sanofi also expects further growth of Dupixent, the drug resulting from its partnership with Regneron, and for vaccines. The company recently launched a new vaccine for Dengue fever and garnered $226 million in grant funding from the Department of Health and Human Services to increase its domestic pandemic influenza vaccine production capabilities in Pennsylvania.

Meanwhile, Sanofi is looking for a buyer for its investigational long-acting glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonist efpeglenatide, a diabetes treatment, which it acquired as part of a $4.2 billion licensing deal with South Korea’s Hanmi Pharmaceuticals in 2015. According to Hudson, the company is taking its successes with changing the practice of medicine in diabetes and cardiovascular diseases and moving on to develop innovative solutions in other areas that will “achieve long-term growth and value for shareholders while turning innovation into transformative medicines for patients.”

Sanofi will also spin off its consumer healthcare business into a standalone company.

Cynthia A. Challener, Ph.D.

Dr. Challener is an established industry editor and technical writing expert in the areas of chemistry and pharmaceuticals. She writes for various corporations and associations, as well as marketing agencies and research organizations, including That’s Nice and Nice Insight.