Sanofi dumps a $663M MS deal with India's Glenmark

Sanofi CEO Olivier Brandicourt

Sanofi ($SNY) has backed away from a multiple sclerosis treatment developed alongside Indian drugmaker Glenmark Pharmaceuticals after the antibody came up short in a midstage trial.

The therapy, vatelizumab, is designed to beat back the inflammation at the heart of MS by targeting white blood cells. Sanofi partnered up on the drug in 2011 in a deal worth up to $663 million, paying Glenmark $50 million up front.

The antibody was rolling through Phase II study in relapsing-remitting MS before coming upon a preplanned interim analysis. Looking at the data, Sanofi concluded vatelizumab had little chance of meeting its primary endpoint and has now decided not to move forward with the treatment.

In a statement to LiveMint, Glenmark said Sanofi's decision was not tied to any safety concerns related to vatelizumab and that the company is now looking for a new partner to push the treatment forward.

The loss of vatelizumab is a blow to Sanofi's MS operation, leaving only the Phase I GZ402668 in the pipeline. The company markets the intravenous Lemtrada and oral Aubagio, treatments that grew 120% last quarter to bring in about $293 million.

But the MS market is quickly evolving as more agents win approval. Sanofi, through its Genzyme unit, is already contending with therapies from Biogen ($BIIB) and Novartis ($NVS), and Roche ($RHHBY) is moving toward FDA approval with a new injected therapy analysts say could cut into each player's market share.

- read Sanofi's results
- here's the LiveMint story