Paul Hudson, Sanofi CEO (Eric Piermont/AFP via Getty Images)

More pro­gram cuts ahead as Sanofi CEO Paul Hud­son con­tin­ues to re­shape the com­pa­ny

One quar­ter in­to the new year, Sanofi CEO Paul Hud­son re­mains stead­fast on his mis­sion to re­shape the com­pa­ny — and that will mean some se­ri­ous pipeline prun­ing, par­tic­u­lar­ly in the gen­er­al med­i­cines unit.

Olivi­er Charmeil

In late 2019 and ear­ly 2020, Sanofi’s gen­er­al med­i­cines unit boast­ed more than 350 prod­uct fam­i­lies, ac­cord­ing to Olivi­er Charmeil, EVP of gen­er­al med­i­cines. By the end of this year, the com­pa­ny aims to re­duce that fig­ure to about 125, ei­ther by di­vest­ing or dis­con­tin­u­ing pro­grams. And by 2025, the goal is to sit at right around 100 prod­uct fam­i­lies.

“I think the team­work that’s go­ing on be­tween the busi­ness unit heads…  is re­al­ly im­por­tant to give us the op­por­tu­ni­ty to re­de­ploy re­source ei­ther to the bot­tom line or in­to R&D, and I think we’re re­al­ly get­ting in­to a good ca­dence on that,” Hud­son said on the call.

That prun­ing will ap­par­ent­ly start with four in­ves­ti­ga­tion­al HSV 2 vac­cines for adults with re­cur­rent gen­i­tal her­pes. Sanofi re­vealed in its Q1 news re­lease that it’s dis­con­tin­u­ing a Phase I study test­ing the four vac­cines for safe­ty and ef­fi­ca­cy, with­out of­fer­ing much more de­tail.

All that flex­i­bil­i­ty should leave Sanofi open for some in­ter­est­ing R&D moves, Hud­son hint­ed, adding that he aims to trans­form the com­pa­ny’s on­col­o­gy and neu­rol­o­gy port­fo­lios in­to “in­dus­try-lead­ing pipelines.”

How­ev­er, when it comes to M&A, he said his strat­e­gy re­mains the same. While mak­ing it clear that Sanofi is look­ing to add to its pipeline, he said the com­pa­ny will re­main “dis­ci­plined.”

“It’s clear that some prices have fall­en, but it’s al­ways been for us about pick­ing the right tar­get and the right as­set. It’s nev­er been about size. It’s al­ways been about the right thing, and that hasn’t changed for us. I think that just stays busi­ness as usu­al,” he said. “If we see the right thing, we’ll move, that’s been the same since the very be­gin­ning, at least since I’ve been here.”

Hud­son was tapped to the helm in 2019 and has since been on a mis­sion to re­vive Sanofi’s rep­u­ta­tion as a leader in drug re­search. Noth­ing is off the ta­ble when it comes to re­struc­tur­ing the com­pa­ny, he said ear­li­er this year, adding that the team has al­ready come a long way.

The chief ex­ec­u­tive culled a hand­ful of pro­grams last year, he re­vealed in the Q4 re­port, in­clud­ing one eval­u­at­ing Sar­clisa in pa­tients await­ing kid­ney treat­ment, and an­oth­er for SAR445088, a com­ple­ment C1s in­hibitor, in im­mune throm­bo­cy­tope­nia (ITP).

Sar­clisa had strug­gled on the up­take, as the drug was first ap­proved about a week and a half be­fore the WHO de­clared a glob­al pan­dem­ic last year, lim­it­ing pa­tient ac­cess. Now, it’s dri­ving the phar­ma gi­ant’s growth in on­col­o­gy, rak­ing in €65 mil­lion (over $68 mil­lion), up from just €34 mil­lion (un­der $36 mil­lion) in the same pe­ri­od last year.

The com­pa­ny al­so re­vealed in its Q4 re­sults that it plans on shav­ing about 6,000 jobs in an ef­fort to be­come more “ag­ile.” Ex­ecs said at the time that they were aim­ing for a head­count of around 90,000 by the end of the year.

Bill Si­bold

Look­ing ahead, Dupix­ent will be a big part of Sanofi’s growth, ac­cord­ing to Bill Si­bold, EVP of spe­cial­ty care and pres­i­dent of Sanofi’s North Amer­i­ca op­er­a­tions. The megablock­buster — which tar­gets both IL-4 and IL-13 — earned €1.6 bil­lion (near­ly $1.7 bil­lion) last quar­ter, up 45.7%.

“We are still on­ly at the be­gin­ning of our jour­ney with ap­prox­i­mate­ly 8% mar­ket pen­e­tra­tion in adults,” Si­bold said on the call.

Thomas Tri­om­phe

Just in the last cou­ple of months, the drug has snagged pri­or­i­ty re­view in eosinophilic esophagi­tis (EoE) for pa­tients 12 and old­er, and mod­er­ate-to-se­vere atopic der­mati­tis in kids be­tween 6 months and 5 years old. Sanofi is al­so look­ing to ex­pand the la­bel in­to un­con­trolled pruri­go nodu­laris and chron­ic pru­ri­tus of un­known ori­gin.

The com­pa­ny’s al­so pre­dict­ing an­oth­er record sales year for its flu prod­ucts, de­spite an 18.2% de­cline in the first quar­ter, which vac­cine head Thomas Tri­om­phe said is “tra­di­tion­al­ly a low quar­ter for flu sales.”

Tri­om­phe al­so not­ed that the com­pa­ny is “all in and full speed” on mR­NA pro­grams, af­ter out­lin­ing plans last sum­mer to spend €400 mil­lion ($437 mil­lion) a year on its mR­NA ef­fort. Last month, Hud­son sketched out a $1 bil­lion-plus in­vest­ment for a new mR­NA cen­ter in France. And last year, the com­pa­ny laid out some pos­i­tive ear­ly re­sults for an mR­NA-based Covid vac­cine can­di­date.

Sanofi was one of the phar­ma com­pa­nies to get out ear­ly in the Covid-19 vac­cine race us­ing a more tra­di­tion­al ap­proach, but that de­railed when the com­pa­ny saw weak re­spons­es in old­er adults.

“While we may have been a lit­tle bit lat­er to the par­ty on mR­NA, cer­tain­ly we feel like we’ve caught right up and ac­tu­al­ly un­der­stand what it takes to go for­ward and dif­fer­en­ti­ate it,” Hud­son said. “I think we’re go­ing to pos­si­bly sur­prise every­body, which is al­ways a good thing.”

M&A: a crit­i­cal dri­ver for sus­tain­able top-line growth in health­care

2021 saw a record $600B in healthcare M&A activity. In 2022, there is an anticipated slowdown in activity, however, M&A prospects remain strong in the medium to long-term. What are future growth drivers for the healthcare sector? Where might we see innovations that drive M&A? RBC’s Andrew Callaway, Global Head, Healthcare Investment Banking discusses with Vito Sperduto, Global Co-Head, M&A.

15 LGBTQ lead­ers in bio­phar­ma; Paul Stof­fels’ Gala­pa­gos re­vamp; As­traZeneca catch­es up in AT­TR; and more

Welcome back to Endpoints Weekly, your review of the week’s top biopharma headlines. Want this in your inbox every Saturday morning? Current Endpoints readers can visit their reader profile to add Endpoints Weekly. New to Endpoints? Sign up here.

A return to in-person conferences also marks a return to on-the-ground reporting. My colleagues Beth Synder Bulik and Nicole DeFeudis were on-site at Cannes Lions, bringing live coverage of pharma’s presence at the ad festival — accompanied by photos from Clara Bui, our virtual producer, that bring you right to the scene. You can find a recap (and links to all the stories) below.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 144,300+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

David Loew (Ipsen)

Ipsen snags an ap­proved can­cer drug in $247M M&A deal as an­oth­er bat­tered biotech sells cheap

You can add Paris-based Ipsen to the list of discount buyers patrolling the penny stock pack for a cheap M&A deal.

The French biotech, which has had plenty of its own problems to grapple with, has swooped in to buy Epizyme $EPZM for $247 million in cash and a CVR with milestones attached to it. Epizyme shareholders, who had to suffer through a painfully soft launch of their EZH2a inhibitor cancer drug Tazverik, will get $1.45 per share along with a $1 CVR tied to achieving $250 million in sales from the drug over four consecutive quarters as well as an OK for second-line follicular lymphoma by 1 Jan. 2028.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 144,300+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

AstraZeneca's new Evusheld direct to consumer campaign aims to reach more immunocompromised patients.

As­traZeneca de­buts first con­sumer cam­paign for its Covid-19 pro­phy­lac­tic Evusheld — and a first for EUA drugs

AstraZeneca’s first consumer ad for Evusheld is also a first for drugs that have been granted emergency use authorizations during the pandemic.

The first DTC ad for a medicine under emergency approval, the Evusheld campaign launching this week aims to raise awareness among immunocompromised patients — and spur more use.

Evusheld nabbed emergency authorization in December, however, despite millions of immunocompromised people looking for a solution and now more widespread availability of the drug.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 144,300+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

De­spite a slow start to the year for deals, PwC pre­dicts a flur­ry of ac­tiv­i­ty com­ing up

Despite whispers of a busy year for M&A, deal activity in the pharma space is actually down 30% on a semi-annualized basis, according to PwC’s latest report on deal activity. But don’t rule out larger deals in the second half of the year, the consultants said.

PwC pharmaceutical and life sciences consulting solutions leader Glenn Hunzinger expects to see Big Pharma companies picking up earlier stage companies to try and fill pipeline gaps ahead of a slew of big patent cliffs. Though a bear market continues to maul the biotech sector, Hunzinger said recent deals indicate that pharma companies are still paying above current trading prices.

Joe Wiley, Amryt Pharma CEO

Am­ryt Phar­ma sub­mits a for­mal dis­pute res­o­lu­tion to the FDA over re­ject­ed skin dis­ease drug

The story of Amryt Pharma’s candidate for the genetic skin condition epidermolysis bullosa, or EB, will soon enter another chapter.

After the Irish drugmaker’s candidate, dubbed Oleogel-S10 and marketed as Filsuvez, was handed a CRL earlier this year, the company announced in a press release that it plans to submit a formal dispute resolution request for the company’s NDA for Oleogel-S10.

Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) (J. Scott Applewhite/AP Images)

Phar­ma-friend­ly sen­a­tor calls on FDA for a third time to show patent pro­tec­tions should­n't be blamed for high drug prices

North Carolina Republican Sen. Thom Tillis made a name for himself in the 2020 election cycle as the darling of the pharma industry, accepting hundreds of thousands in campaign contributions, even from the likes of Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla.

Those contributions have led Tillis to attempt to re-write patent laws in pharma’s favor, a move which failed to gain steam in 2019, and request for a third time since January that the FDA should help stop “the false narrative that patent protections are to blame for high drug prices.”

EMA signs off on 3 drugs re­cent­ly re­ject­ed by FDA, in­clud­ing Bio­Mar­in's new he­mo­phil­ia gene ther­a­py

The EMA’s human medicines committee on Friday recommended three new drugs for approval or conditional approval, even as their US counterparts have rejected these three for various reasons.

In a major move, CHMP offered a thumbs-up to a conditional marketing authorization for the first gene therapy to treat severe hemophilia A, although the agency cautioned that it’s so far unknown how long the effects of infusion will last.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 144,300+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Joe Papa (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press via AP, File)

Joe Pa­pa re­signs as chair of Bausch Health as bil­lion­aire John Paul­son takes over

Joe Papa, chair of Bausch Health, officially resigned on Thursday and the board appointed billionaire hedge fund manager John Paulson as the new chair, effective immediately.

The specialty pharma company sought to make clear that Papa’s abrupt departure “was not due to any dispute or disagreement with the Company, its management or the Board on any matter relating to the Company’s operations, policies or practices.”

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 144,300+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.