Sanofi R&D chief spotlights diabetes strategy amid Amylin bid buzz

In one of the worst kept secrets in the industry, Sanofi ($SNY) has been in the scrum of potential buyers forming around Amylin ($AMLN) in recent weeks. But even as the pharma giant's R&D chief highlighted new diabetes drugs in the pipeline as a chief strategic initiative, Elias Zerhouni was careful to keep his lips sealed about any possible Amylin offer when he sat down with reporters recently.

He was, however, much more voluble about Sanofi's top prospects for diabetes.

"We used to be an insulin company, now we want to be a diabetes company," Zerhouni told reporters, according to a Reuters report. "We want to offer an entire range of solutions."

That is why Lyxumia, a GLP-1 drug in the same class as Amylin's Byetta and Bydureon, remains a "priority" as it heads for regulatory review later this year. And Zerhouni highlighted an experimental medication for diabetic retinopathy as Exhibit B in his case.

Sanofi has been publicly coy about its interest in Amylin, but Bloomberg's hot line to insiders in the deal led to a report on Friday that the pharma giant had joined Merck ($MRK) in making an initial $4 billion bid for Amylin. Pfizer ($PFE) and Roche ($RHHBY) reportedly signed confidentiality agreements, according to Bloomberg's play-by-play. And Takeda and Bristol-Myers Squibb ($BMY) have been hatching offers of their own.

Whoever gets Amylin in the end will, if nothing else, seal a reputation for themselves as a comer in the diabetes field.

- here's the article from Reuters