Sanofi CEO Viehbacher boasts of R&D resurgence as FDA takes MS app

Sanofi CEO Chris Viehbacher

This morning Sanofi ($SNY) put out the word that the FDA has accepted the biologics application for Genzyme's multiple sclerosis drug hopeful Lemtrada, fanning some flames of late-stage excitement for a company that still doesn't think its R&D efforts are fully appreciated among the ranks of Wall Street analysts.  

In an interview with Bloomberg, Sanofi CEO Chris Viehbacher played lead cheerleader for an R&D operation that has been whipped into a new shape in recent years. And he made it abundantly clear that he was game to buy more bolt-on assets so long as they can be acquired for €1 billion to €2 billion--a modest sum in the Big Pharma M&A game. 

Viehbacher says that a number of late-stage products in the pipeline convinced him that there's still some upside in the Big Pharma's shares. In specific, he pointed to the PCSK9 program and an experimental dengue vaccine as reason for excitement. And he boasted about new approvals for the MS drug Aubagio, the cancer drug Zaltrap and Lyxumia for diabetes as evidence of R&D successes after a long, dry spell.

One of the problems with hunting for new assets, he tells Bloomberg, is that there's plenty of companies with deep pockets in the pack of buyers no scouting for new assets.

"The problem is, today all of our competitors have cash and everything is pretty much fully valued," Viehbacher told the business news service. "I only want to do acquisitions where I can find the value." 

One of the reasons why the market excitement for Sanofi is amply illustrated by its successes on MS. Biogen Idec ($BIIB) continues to be considered the leader in late-stage research, with a program for BG-12 that has spurred bullish expectations for an approval followed by a blockbuster launch. 

- here's the release on Lemtrada
- read the interview with Bloomberg

Special Report: Christopher Viehbacher - The 25 most influential people in biopharma today

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