Sanofi and med tech giant Medtronic join forces on diabetes

Sanofi has formed an alliance with medical device titan Medtronic to develop combo therapies that can improve patient adherence and simplify insulin treatment for the world's roughly 350 million sufferers of Type 2 diabetes.

The two will pool their human and financial resources in what they call an open-innovation model, uniting Sanofi's ($SNY) experience in diabetes drug development with Medtronic's ($MDT) heft in insulin-delivery devices and continuous glucose monitors.

Neither company is disclosing the monetary terms of the deal, but the two have divided their alliance into two fields: drug-device combinations and care-management services. For the former, Sanofi and Medtronic will work to craft affordable and easy-to-use products for Type 2 diabetics struggling to control blood glucose with insulin injections. As for care management, the pair has a more nebulous goal of designing an over-arching program to guide patients' treatment, from oral therapies to insulin initiation, hoping to smooth out a common therapeutic path and boost adherence.

Sanofi EVP Pascale Witz

"There is no day off in managing diabetes, and lack of adherence is one of the major hurdles to optimal disease management," Sanofi Executive Vice President Pascale Witz said in a statement. "Through this important collaboration, Sanofi will tap into technology advances that aim to create holistic treatment solutions which take into account the individual patient's needs."

The two have an existing agreement in place to develop an implantable insulin pump for Type 1 diabetics, and that effort will roll into their new alliance, the companies said.

For Sanofi, whose blockbuster insulin Lantus comes off patent next year, an all-hands approach to diabetes makes some sense. Lantus, which brought in about $7.6 billion last year, accounts for almost 20% of the French drugmaker's revenue, and the drug is already a target for biosimilars, with rivals Eli Lilly ($LLY) and Merck ($MRK) working up knockoffs of their own.

- read the statement