Big Pharma Sanofi and German CRO-biotech drug discovery hybrid Evotec are penning a deal that will see Sanofi license out a host of infectious disease assets to the biotech, with 100 staffers also moving into its R&D engine.
Sanofi is paying a one-time, upfront fee of €60 million ($74 million) to Evotec, a small sum, but one backed up with a promise to “provide significant further long-term funding to ensure support and progression of the portfolio,” although exact financial details were not shared.
The deal drills down like this: Sanofi will license most of its infectious disease (ID) research and early-stage portfolio (around 10 assets all-told) and move this unit, with around Sanofi 100 staffers alongside it, into Evotec (although this does not include the French pharma’s vaccine R&D unit).
Evotec, which does its own research and also relies heavily on external collaborations with biopharmas and academic biomedical research, will run this “open innovation platform” near Lyon, France, where Sanofi Pasteur is HQ’d.
Sanofi holds on to certain option rights on the development, manufacturing, and commercialization of anti-infective products and will “continue to be involved in infectious disease through its vaccines research and development and its global health programs,” it says in a statement.
The focus of the Evotec drug discovery will be on “new mode-of-action antimicrobials,” the pair say.
Werner Lanthaler, Ph.D., CEO of Evotec, said: “Since the acquisition of Euprotec (U.K.) in 2014, Evotec has had a significant strategic interest and demonstrated expertise in infectious diseases research, with an ambition to grow and become the drug discovery and development leader in this space together with its partners.
“We are pleased to be working and expanding our strategic relationship with Sanofi, which has a long history in providing novel anti-infective agents to markets globally. Finding a way to motivate more public funding and academic initiatives for the progress of novel anti-infectives on Evotec's platform will be a key success factor for this initiative.”
The deal is still being talked over, but should be done in the coming months.
Evotec already has a series of deals with the likes of Eli Lilly, Tesaro, Oxford University, and even has its own spin-out in the form of Topas Therapeutics.
Elias Zerhouni, M.D., president of global R&D for Sanofi, adds: “Research in the field of anti-infectives is an area where building critical mass through partnering is particularly important. This new French-based open innovation center will benefit from the high-quality science ecosystem. Evotec is a trusted partner in drug discovery and has the ambition and capacity to become a real leader in the fight against infectious diseases.”
This also comes as Sanofi continues to retool its R&D, getting back into cancer as well as blood disorders via its $11.6 billion deal for Biogen spin-out Bioverativ.