Sanofi, Verily launch new diabetes JV

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Sanofi and Verily announced Monday a new diabetes-focused joint venture, Onduo. The JV comes a year after Sanofi’s original partnership with then-Google Life Sciences on diabetes monitoring.

Sanofi and Verily are putting up $248 million each for the JV, Stefan Oelrich, Sanofi’s Global Diabetes franchise chief, told FierceMedicalDevices. Onduo seeks to develop solutions that combine devices, software, pharmaceuticals and professional care to help diabetics better manage their disease, the companies said in a statement. Instead of considering all of these tools as separate components, the JV will incorporate them into a more “service-centric approach.”

“[Onduo] will adopt a more service-centric approach and support doctors in their efforts to treat their patients more effectively. In addition to developing innovative therapies for diabetes which will remain a key focus for Sanofi, we see these solutions which combine innovative therapies and services as the future for diabetes care,” said Peter Guenter, executive vice president and head of Sanofi’s Global Diabetes & Cardiovascular Business Unit, in the statement.

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While the companies detailed generalities in their statement, including the potential for “integration of multiple interventions, such as data-driven patient support and devices” to improve outcomes, Oelrich declined to provide specifics, saying the partnership is still a “work in progress.”

It has been a bumpy road for Sanofi’s diabetes business, with the FDA requesting more data last month for the pharma’s dual-drug delivery pen. Competitor Novo Nordisk’s pen delivering basal insulin and a GLP-1 drug may well beat Sanofi’s to market as an FDA decision on the Danish company’s product is expected this month.

Last October, Sanofi reported that diabetes sales had dropped and that it expected the slump to continue. The company has tried to surmount challenges from new competition and the arrival of European biosimilars of its basal insulin, Lantus, but to no avail. The company dropped the inhaled insulin, Afrezza, after a disappointing launch. And its Lantus follow-up, Toujeo, is struggling for market share, partly because of competition, but also because of Lantus’ dominance.

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