Sanofi-Aventis's warm embrace of Regeneron's antibody work has turned into a bear hug. The drug giant is extending its two-year-old pact to develop new therapeutic antibodies with a commitment to pay more than a billion dollars to Regeneron over eight years. In the deal, Sanofi is increasing its support from $100 million a year to $160 million as it extends the pact an additional five years, to 2017.
Regeneron CEO Dr. Leonard S. Schleifer told the New York Times that the revised collaboration is a model pact for pharma and biotech. "They leave Regeneron and its culture to do its thing," he said. "It's everything a biotech company could dream of."
The rich pact also reflects the extraordinary productivity that Sanofi has already enjoyed. The pharma company has taken up options to co-develop four antibodies which have moved into the clinic in two years. And they intend to accelerate the pace to four or five new antibody programs per year. If a new therapy goes on to earn more than a billion dollars a year outside of the U.S., Regeneron could earn up to $250 million in additional sales milestones.
Tarrytown, NY-based Regeneron has engineered mice that can make human antibodies, proteins that are produced by the immune system which can play a key role in fighting a disease. And antibodies play a significant role in Sanofi's plans for the future. Sanofi already owns 19 percent of Regeneron and could expand that even more.