Sanofi R&D chief eager to strike new deals on eye drugs

Sanofi-Aventis R&D chief Marc Cluzel tells Reuters that the French pharma giant is opting to build up a pipeline of new drugs for back-of-the-eye ailments, a strategic plan that will trigger a series of new collaborations and buyouts.

"So far most therapies are targeting the surface of the eye, but we are increasingly moving towards the retina (a layer at the back of the eye). It is in this field where possibilities are, providing an opportunity for Sanofi," Cluzel told Reuters. "We are considering buying products or small companies. Everything is open."

By 2013 Sanofi expects to be deep into three key disease categories: Diabetes, cancer and ophthalmology. It turned to eye drugs last year, with a deal to buy Fovea and partner with Oxford BioMedica. This year Cluzel says that Sanofi expects to continue its steady pace of new deals, matching the 33 acquisitions and partnerships it struck in 2009.

Sanofi has been undergoing an R&D transformation since the arrival of CEO Chris Viehbacher in late 2008. Viehbacher has axed development projects, refocused its development strategy to include far more partnerships and bought up biotech companies offering new ideas and products.

- here's the story from Reuters