Evotec seals deal for Sanofi’s infectious disease unit

The agreement comes three years after Evotec took over Sanofi’s Toulouse small molecule R&D site. (Sanofi)

Evotec has wrapped up a deal for Sanofi’s infectious disease unit. The agreement sees Sanofi transfer 100 employees, more than 10 drug candidates and €60 million ($70 million) upfront to the German service provider. 

Sanofi revealed it had entered into exclusive talks with Evotec about the future of its infectious disease unit three months ago. Now, those talks have matured into a definitive agreement that will see Evotec take charge of an R&D site near the French city of Lyon and take responsibility for advancing a pipeline of infectious disease drugs.

The numbers are largely unchanged from Sanofi and Evotec’s statement about the start of the talks. Evotec now expects to have 180 infectious disease researchers after adding the Sanofi staff, up from “more than 150” in the earlier release, but apart from that the numbers are unchanged.

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Having agreed the details, attention now turns to execution. Elias Zerhouni, M.D., Sanofi’s outgoing research chief, has previously talked up the potential for Evotec to advance the pipeline prospects far faster than the French pharma could achieve without external support. As a service provider, Evotec can also use the resources to support third-parties.

“Together we are well-positioned to become the global drug discovery and development partner of choice in this important therapeutic category,” Evotec CEO Werner Lanthaler said in a statement. “We invite more companies, academic institutions, governments and foundations from around the world to help us advance new novel anti-infectives toward the market.”

The agreement comes three years after Evotec took over Sanofi’s Toulouse small molecule R&D site and more than 200 of its chemists. Sanofi committed to pay Evotec $275 million over five years to get the Toulouse site off its hands. In both cases, Sanofi has sidestepped the thicket of labor laws that come into play when closing sites in France by getting Evotec to take on the operation.