No game changer: Sanofi picks up flu vaccine
- Sanofi announced Tuesday morning it is making a quick acquisition to add to the portfolio of its vaccine arm Sanofi Pasteur.
- The French pharma will pick up privately-held Connecticut vaccine-maker Protein Sciences for $650 million upfront plus another $100 million in milestone payments.
- Acquiring Protein Sciences will give Sanofi access to the smaller company's recombinant protein-based influenza vaccine Flublok, which was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in October 2016.
While most flu vaccines are incubated in eggs, Protein Sciences platform technology uses insect cells infected with a flu virus to produce a flu vaccine protein.
Since 2006, the World Health Organization and the FDA have been pushing for drugmakers to move to cell-based manufacturing processes for the flu vaccine in case of a worldwide epidemic.
Unlike egg-based vaccines, which take about six months to manufacture and can be hard to mass produced on a large scale in the event of unexpected need, cells can be frozen for quick start up. These types of manufacturing methods are used with other types of vaccines and are becoming more common in the manufacturing of the flu vaccine.
Sanofi will close on the deal in the third quarter of 2017, adding the non egg-based vaccine to its portfolio.
While the acquisition will bolster the Sanofi Pasteur portfolio — which is the world’s largest vaccine maker — it is not necessarily the deal that Sanofi has been trying to do.
The French pharma has been thwarted in several attempts to make game-changing acquisitions, losing out on the acquisition of both Actelion and Medivation.
While the vaccines portfolio contributes about $5 billion in annual revenues for the company, several other areas of the company are floundering, including its fledgling cancer portfolio and its aging diabetes franchise. Meanwhile, its rare disease and immunology portfolio — through its Sanofi Genzyme unit — is on the upswing.
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