Pierre Chancel - Sanofi

The man behind Sanofi's move to a patient-centric diabetes model

Name: Pierre Chancel
Title: Senior VP, Diabetes Division, Sanofi

Last year, Sanofi R&D chief Elias Zerhouni offered up his vision for the company when it comes to diabetes: "We used to be an insulin company; now we want to be a diabetes company."

And the man who is making that happen, while keeping competitors off-balance about its next play, is Pierre Chancel, Sanofi's head of diabetes. Sanofi ($SNY) starts with the best-selling diabetes brand in the world in the long-acting insulin product Lantus, which sits unchallenged now that the FDA has ordered Novo Nordisk ($NVO) to do more study on its long-acting insulin Tresiba. It generated almost €5 billion ($6.7) billion in revenue in 2012. Sanofi continues to build evidence for further adoption of Lantus even as it works on building its insulin franchise with research on experimental treatments.

Given Lantus' dominance in the market and Chancel's moves to extend the company's reach in long-acting insulin as well as treatments for Type 2 diabetes, competitors like Novo Nordisk, Eli Lilly ($LLY) and Bristol-Myers Squibb ($BMY) must keep alert to where he is taking his group.

To that end, it also has Lyxumia. The GLP-1 agonist is a once-daily therapy for Type 2 diabetes that Chancel argues could be a safer alternative to Bristol-Myers Squibb's Byetta. In November, Lyxumia was recommended for use in the EU, and so approval is expected soon. The market for these drugs is very competitive. Besides Byetta, Novo Nordisk's Victoza falls in this category.

Chancel points to Novartis' ($NVS) approach to emerging markets as indication of what he is trying to accomplish across the board. "An example to showcase that we understood the needs of these markets and were able to provide solutions is AllStar, a state-of-the art, reusable insulin pen that was designed for emerging markets and manufactured in India," he said in emailed comments.

The diabetes market is also huge and growing, and Chancel is leaving no stones unturned in the effort to build out its diabetes franchise. He has forged a series of alliances with academic research hubs such as the University of California, San Francisco and the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston to pursue new treatments for diabetes and other metabolic diseases.

While other companies are still trying to figure out how to do more than tweet press releases, Sanofi is using social media in a big way to attract and keep in touch with customers. It has also broadened its reach by offering a blood-sugar monitor. But iBGStar is not just any monitor. The device hooks to an iPhone or iPad, allowing patients to track blood sugar, carb consumption and other info and email it to their doctors. A website for users allows patients to tap into telephone and online counseling about diet and exercise.

While Chancel may not run all of these efforts, he influences them all and they feed into the Sanofi vision and make its diabetes division the envy of many.

-- Eric Palmer (email | Twitter)

Pierre Chancel - Sanofi