Sanofi chief plots course for booming cancer, diabetes markets

With all the buzz last week about Sanofi's new Covance deal and its ongoing struggle to gain control of Genzyme, it was easy to overlook CEO Chris Viehbacher's pipeline review for the Big Pharma company. Viehbacher has been engaged in a head-to-toe revamp of R&D from his first day at the helm. Late last week he pronounced the effort as still very much a work in progress. But he laid bare some key strategies that will drive partnerships and outsourcing plans for years to come--regardless of what happens with Genzyme.

Oncology and diabetes have emerged as the two primary development focuses at Sanofi. Viehbacher last week predicted that the diabetes market will boom from the current €33 billion mark to €50 billion in just five years. Sanofi has aggressively pursued new diabetes pacts with smaller companies and academic teams and Viehbacher says that complementary devices will now take center stage as it builds its pipeline.

Outsourcing has been a central theme in Sanofi's cancer development work, and the CEO says that the Asian market will play a growing role as the company develops new cancer drugs that are tailored for smaller groups of patients.

Joe Herring, chief executive of Covance, told the Financial Times that his company's outsourcing deal with Sanofi--in which he acquired Sanofi facilities and inked a 10-year research pact that could be worth up to $2.2 billion--was a reflection of Big Pharma's interest in finding new ways to cut costs and speed up trials. Said Herring: "All pharma companies are looking to reduce their fixed costs and speed up development. This is another win-win situation."

- read the story from Dow Jones
- here's the Financial Times report