Sanofi ($SNY) owns the best-selling diabetes brand in the world with the long-acting insulin product Lantus, and the French drug giant is now working on building its insulin franchise while researching new experimental treatments.

Take Lyxumia. Sanofi has positioned its experimental GLP-1 agonist as a potential once-daily therapy that diabetes chief Pierce Chancel has also argued could be a safer alternative to Bristol-Myers Squibb's ($BMY) Byetta. Sanofi has provided promising Phase III data on the treatment in combination with basal insulin, with plans to file for U.S. and European approvals of the therapy later this year.

Sanofi has balanced growth of its diabetes business with research on new treatments as well as building evidence for further adoption of Lantus, which brought in about $5.1 billion in sales last year and is expected to surpass the $6 billion mark this year. It's a testament to the dynamics in the diabetes business, in which expanding existing franchises can often provide the greatest growth.

Also, Sanofi has forged a series of alliances with academic research hubs such as the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), and Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston to pursue new treatments for diabetes and other metabolic diseases. Those pacts follow the R&D theme at the French drugmaker, which has made cutbacks to internal research operations and favored additional deals with external scientific experts.

For more:
Sanofi stands up for diabetes therapy in crowded GLP-1 contest
Sanofi R&D chief spotlights diabetes strategy amid Amylin bid buzz

Drug: Lyxumia

Mechanism: GLP-1

Phase: III

Partner: Zealand Pharma A/S




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