Sanofi-Aventis says French manufacturing operations will focus on vaccine and biotech drugs, unveiling €150m ($202m) plan to shift emphasis away from synthetic chemistry-based production.
The four-year project will establish a new vaccines centre in Neuville-sur-Saone, add biotech production capacity at Sanofi’s plant in Saint-Aubin-Les-Elbeuf and Vertolaye see a gradual phasing-out of production at its facility in Romainville,
In a press statement, the drugmaker said that in addition to building biotechnology infrastructure, the move “prepares the facilities for a decline in production that will follow patent expirations of several major drugs.”
Sanofi did not respond to in-Pharmatechnolgist’s request for information on the likely impact on its manufacturing workforce, although the firm did say that its plans at Romainville will be “accompanied by a job stimulus plan.”
Additionally, Sanofi senior VP of industrial affairs Philippe Luscan told Reuters that "There is a balance between a reduction in chemical jobs and a rise in biotechnology jobs, so the number of jobs will be steady overall.”
Corticosteroid competitiveness and Dengue fever vac
While Sanofi did not go into specifics, it did explain that the majority of the investment, some €90m, will be spent on an “innovative biosynthetic process” to “improve our corticosteroid production competitiveness at a global level.”
The firm also said that the new vaccines facility, which will be its third largest unit in Europe, will be used to produce its new dengue fever vaccine when it becomes fully operational in 2014.
AgaMatrix glucose monitor accord
In other news, Sanofi has teamed up with US firm AgaMatrix to develop blood glucose monitoring solutions.
Under the deal, the firms will develop monitoring systems designed to work with the French drugmaker’s existing diabetes portfolio, which includes both Lantus and Apidra.
Pierre Chancel, head of Sanofi’s diabetes division, said that: “This agreement is a concrete step towards fulfilling our vision to deliver integrated solutions to patients and become the partner of choice in the field of diabetes”.
The move towards medical device production also fits with the expansion strategy and diversification plans set out by Sanofi CEO Chris Viehbacher.
Speaking to Reuters late last year, Viehbacher said that: "The vision of the company is to become a healthcare company (so) it's logical to look at some kinds of devices."