A top three biopharma by 2025? ‘Late to the game’ Sanofi plays catch-up

By Flora Southey contact

- Last updated on GMT

The traditionally small molecule firm was ‘late to the biologics game’, but Sanofi says a mixture of external partnerships and mergers are helping shift focus.

The firm’s ambition to be a “top three biopharma company” ​by 2025 relies on transforming its R&D operations, creating external partnerships, and acquiring capabilities, said Sanofi biologics SVP Brian O’Callaghan at the BioPharma Ambition Conference in Ireland last month.

In 2012, more than 55% of Sanofi’s pipeline was small molecule-derived, however O’Callaghan said the firm also has a history of vaccine and protein development.

“Even though Sanofi has a long heritage in vaccines, in therapeutic proteins in diabetes care, and in enzyme replacement therapies for rare diseases, we were late to the game in terms of classic biologics or monoclonal antibodies.”

With regard to R&D, strategic partnerships with firms Regeneron, Voyager Therapeutics and BioNTech have helped complement areas currently lacking the internal capacity required to be a “powerhouse in those spaces,” ​he said.

In 2015, Sanofi Genzyme announced a collaboration with Voyager Therapeutics in the gene therapy space, and on August last year, we reported​ that Sanofi and Regeneron had come to the end of a ten-year monoclonal antibody collaboration.


According to Callaghan, Sanofi is also “playing in catch-up mode”​ to boost its biopharmaceutical presence via investments in the infrastructure of manufacturing capacity, skillsets and capabilities. 

In January this year, we reported​ Sanofi’s intention to acquire its antibody-fragment technology partner Ablynx.

The €3.9bn ($4.8m) deal includes taking on Ablynx’s phase III thrombosis antibody-fragment candidate caplacisumab, as well as its single-domain ‘Nanobody’ technology.

Earlier that month​, Sanofi agreed to pay $11.6bn for haemophilia-focused Bioverativ, to help develop its candidate RNAi therapeutic fitusiran.

Related topics: Bio Developments, Pipelines

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