Sanofi diabetes chief to leave company as US business struggles
- The head of Sanofi’s diabetes and cardiovascular units will leave next month amid several other changes to the company’s executive committee, Sanofi said on Monday.
- Pascale Witz has been at Sanofi since 2013, but only moved into her position as head of the diabetes and CV units five months ago. Witz will be replaced by Sanofi veteran Peter Guenter.
- The changes come as Sanofi battles tough competition with Novo Nordisk and others in the diabetes market. CEO Olivier Brandicourt has forecast declining global market sales of 4% to 8% through 2018 for the important diabetes division, as Stat notes.
Long a leader in the insulin market, Sanofi has faced major competitive pressure from Novo Nordisk, particularly from its long-acting insulin Levemir. At the same time, payers have pushed back on drug pricing, adding to market challenges.
Early last year, Sanofi replaced one-third of its U.S. diabetes sales managers and predicted flat earnings for its diabetes division.
While the company hopes its new PCSK9 inhibitor Praluent can revitalize diabetes sales, the drug’s launch has disappointed so far. And adding further challenges, a federal jury recently sided with competing Amgen in a patent infringement case over Praluent and Amgen’s Repatha.
Meanwhile, CEO Brandicourt is cutting costs in an attempt to save $1.6 billion by 2018 to offset declining revenues from the diabetes division.
There is some hope on the horizon, though. Sanofi awaits an FDA decision on two new diabetes products: a combination insulin glargine/lixisenatide injection and a GLP-1 receptor agonist. A decision is expected by the end of the month.