Sanofi and Regeneron to end antibody R&D pact by year’s end

Tucked away in the middle of its second-quarter results today, Regeneron announced that it and long-term Big Pharma partner Sanofi will end their antibody research partnership before 2018.

Under a “Business Development Update” section of its financials this morning, Regeneron said quite simply: “The company’s antibody discovery agreement with Sanofi will end on December 31, 2017 without any extension.”

This pact, which was signed in 2007 and extended in 2010, saw the French Big Pharma pay out $100 million a year up to 2010, and then around $160 million from 2010. The original 2007 pact was set to end in 2012, but under the expanded agreement was boosted until the end of 2017. Billions were put on the table and into the R&D engine, with Sanofi also taking a stake in Regeneron, but never triggering a buyout. 

It seemed as though it might be extended again, but Regeneron announced that it will now end, as planned, by December.

The deal has seen major successes, namely Praluent (an anti-PCSK9), Dupixent (an anti-IL-4R) and Kevzara (an anti-IL-6R), with other pipeline meds, such as PD-L1 cancer drug REGN2810, REGN3500 (an anti-IL-33), and REGN3767 (an anti-LAG-3), all being discovered and initially developed under the antibody deal.

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Regeneron says that Praluent (which is in the midst of a major court battle), recently approved dermatology drug (and potential blockbuster) Dupixent, also recently approved arthritis med Kevzara, as well as REGN3500, will all “continue to be developed, and commercialized as applicable, with Sanofi under the Antibody License and Collaboration Agreement.”

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REGN2810 and REGN3767, meanwhile, will continue to be developed with Sanofi under the immuno-oncology collaboration. But when the antibody pact is stopped by year’s end, Regeneron says it has “the right to develop or continue to develop other product candidates discovered under this agreement independently or with other collaborators.”

A Regeneron spokesperson confirmed the ending of the pact to FierceBiotech, and added: "The separate immuno-oncology collaboration with Sanofi is ongoing through at least 2020 (terms were five years w/ ability to extend on certain programs for three additional years)."

I asked how they would be going forward on their remaining pipeline without Sanofi, and the spokesperson said : "I imagine there will be a mix of ongoing collaborations, new collaborations and independent development depending on the compound (just as we have now)." The Big Biotech did not give a reason as to why the pact has not been extended.

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This may well leave a large hole in Sanofi's R&D future, and comes amid an 18-month period of re-jigging its research priorities under a relatively new CEO, something that also saw it get back into oncology after looking as if it was to wind down on its cancer ops.