Sanofi to Cut 20 Percent of its U.S. Diabetes Workforce

Published: Dec 12, 2016

Sanofi to Cut 20 Percent of its U.S. Diabetes Workforce December 12, 2016
By Mark Terry, Breaking News Staff

Paris-based Sanofi announced on Friday that as part of a realignment for its U.S. diabetes and cardiovascular business, it will lay off approximately 20 percent of its U.S. staff from that business unit.

Sanofi’s U.S. diabetes business has been taking a hammering. Its blockbuster diabetes drug, Lantus, lost patent protection in the U.S., and some of its pipeline has not lived up to expectations, including its failed partnership with MannKind Corporation for Afrezza, an inhaled form of insulin. Its next-generation cholesterol drug, Praluent, has also been slow to take off.

“As a result of the new model, we did announce an approximate 20 percent staff reductions, including our sales force and some business support functions for this business unit,” a Sanofi spokesperson told BioPharmDIVE.

Sanofi’s Diabetes and Cardiovascular unit sales dropped 2.5 percent globally during this year’s third quarter, and its diabetes franchise was down 1.5 percent. Eli Lilly and Co. is launching a biosimilar to Lantus called Basaglar next week. Sanofi launched its own follow-up to Lantus, Toujeo, but so far it doesn’t appear to be gaining much traction in the marketplace.

Insurers are also placing pricing pressures on diabetes companies. Novo Nordisk , a major Sanofi competitor in the diabetes space, recently announced plans to lay off 1,000 workers.

Sanofi and Novo Nordisk aren’t the only big pharmaceutical companies to make job cuts at the end of this year. Mylan announced recently that it was cutting less than 10 percent of its U.S. staff. Eli Lilly, after the failure of its Alzheimer’s drug, solanezumab, has indicated it plans to lay off hundreds, mostly in its U.S. sales force. Endo Pharmaceuticals , headquartered in Dublin, Ireland and Malvern, Pennsylvania, indicated it will lay off 375 workers as part of a shift away from its pain drug franchise. And London-based AstraZeneca plans to cut 700 U.S. jobs.

Although Sanofi has definitely been facing headwinds, it’s not all bad news. On December 8, it announced with Regeneron Pharmaceuticals that the European Medicines Agency (EMA) had agreed to review its Marketing Authorization Application (MAA) for Dupixent (dupilumab) to treat adults with moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis (AD) who are candidates for systemic therapy. The same drug has been given Priority Review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and has a PDUFA date of March 29, 2017.

And on November 30, Warp Drive Bio, located in Cambridge, Mass., announced that after hitting a milestone mark, it was turning its novel antibiotic compounds over to Sanofi. Sanofi will take over all preclinical and clinical development operations.

Warp Drive was created in 2012 by a strategic partnership with Sanofi and financing from Third Rock Ventures and Greylock Partners. Sanofi had the option to buy the company if the microbial genome-focused drug discovery program hit certain milestones. In January 2016, Sanofi revised the agreement and dropped its acquisition option. But it then licensed four programs for up to $750 million made up of an upfront fee, milestone payments, and research funding.

Although any actual product is several years away, Sanofi hopes to begin human trial as early as 2018.

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