Sanofi unveils R&D makeover

As promised, Sanofi-Aventis announced today that it's overhauling its R&D operations in a bid to boost productivity. Noting its "social responsibility," the company is not planning layoffs, but says it will restructure through "voluntary staff departures."

The France-based pharma will reorganize some of its world-wide operations, which includes consolidating its R&D activities in France. The reorganization will affect preclinical activities at some sites of Spain, the United Kingdom, the United States and Japan where divestment or reconversion solutions will be sought for certain activities.

Sanofi's restructuring includes plans to strengthen 'exploratory structures' that work in close collaboration with outside entities. It will pursue partnerships with public and private research entities, academic institutions and biotechnology companies, and bring new skills to the company via the recruitment of promising researchers.

"We are living through radical times of change for Research," explained  Dr. Marc Cluzel, Senior Vice President, Research and Development. "Given the increasing complexity of the world of science, we need to change our approach to the patient, make use of novel technologies and create new concepts,' he continued. 'Tomorrow's research will be carried out through networks. We will be open to knowledge from outside sources, becoming a key partner. We need to reinvent R&D."

Last week CEO Chris Viehbacher said the company would pursue a shift toward generics and away from in-house research, including a greater push into emerging markets. The company is facing generic competition of its best-selling drug Plavix in 2011.

- here's Sanofi's release
- read the WSJ report