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December 12, 2016

Sanofi Axing 20% of U.S. Diabetes and Cardiovascular Staff

  • Sanofi has confirmed it will eliminate about 20% of its positions in its US Diabetes and Cardiovascular business in a restructuring that follows the onset of competition for the pharma giant’s onetime best-seller Lantus (insulin glargine), including a product set to launch in the U.S. on Thursday.

    “As a result of the new model, we did announce an approximate 20% staff reductions, including our sales force and some business support functions for this business unit,” Sanofi said in a statement to news outlets.

    “Sanofi US is committed to treating all impacted employees fairly and respectfully,” the statement added. “Impacted employees have been offered separation packages, which include severance pay, health benefits and outplacement services.  In addition, employees in good standing can apply for other positions based on their qualifications.”

    Lantus sales during the first nine months of this year have fallen 10.7% from the same period last year, to €4.251 billion ($4.5 billion), while Q3 sales of Lantus slid by 9.8% from the year-ago quarter, to €1.391 billion (nearly $1.5 billion). That includes a decline in the U.S. of 13.5%, to €858 million ($910 million), which Sanofi said was anticipated—and was “mainly reflecting lower average net price and patients switching to Toujeo®,” the company’s next-generation formulation of the basal insulin.

    Sanofi is facing growing competition for Lantus, for which U.S. patent protection ended last year. Eli Lilly launched its follow-on biologic insulin glargine, Basaglar® (insulin glargine injection) in Europe in December 2015, and plans to launch the product in the U.S. on Thursday.

    And in August, Merck & Co. won FDA acceptance for review of its NDA for its follow-on biologic version of Lantus, MK-1293, which is expected to launch in the U.S. late in 2017. MK-1293 is being developed by Merck with partial funding from biosimilar developer Samsung Bioepis.

    Sanofi has sought to shore up its diabetes business through the launch of Toujeo as well as several alliances. Late in 2015, Sanofi launched a collaboration with Hanmi of up to €3.9 billion (about $4.1 billion) to develop long-acting diabetes treatments, followed by a partnership with Lexicon Pharmaceuticals of up to $1.7 billion to develop and commercialize the Phase III candidate sotagliflozin (LX4211).

    More recently in September, Sanofi and Verily (formerly Google Life Sciences) launched an approximately $500 million joint venture called Onduo, with the aim of developing a diabetes management platform that combines new treatments with devices, software, and professional care.

    However, Sanofi in January terminated an up-to-$925 million collaboration with MannKind to license and commercialize Afrezza®, after sales of the inhaled form of insulin proved disappointing.

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