Sanofi & struggling MannKind ditch collab agreement amid Afrezza inhaled insulin flop
- MannKind announced on Tuesday that its collaboration and licensing agreement with Sanofi has been terminated, and that development and commercialization of the inhaled insulin Afrezza will be transitioned from the French pharma giant to MannKind over the next three to six months.
- Afrezza has been struggling mightily to pick up sales. In fact, its haul for the first nine months of 2015 was a disappointing 5 million euros (with just 2 million euros in Q3 2015).
- MannKind has voiced optimism in the face of this market adversity, insisting that sales would pick up in Q4 2015. Now, the company will have to climb that hill on its own.
Sanofi took a big gamble with its bet on Afrezza, which aimed to become the first major nontraditional insulin product on the market after other firms' failed attempts at doing so. But now, it seems the company has seen the writing on the wall, with MannKind announcing the termination of the collaboration on just the second business day of 2016 (the collab was eligible for termination as of January 1).
This isn't particularly surprising given Afrezza's slow upstake and weak sales numbers, which have further hindered an already-struggling Sanofi diabetes franchise. The pharma giant announced in the fall that it expected about a 6% decline in global diabetes sales for 2015 and "an average annualized rate of between 4% and 8%" of decline between 2015 and 2018, according to CEO Olivier Brandicourt.
The future of Afrezza is now completely in MannKind's hands. But the company has been on shaky financial footing for a while now, even resorting to a stock sale on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange in November in a cash-raising effort. The firm will now also be on the hook for continued Afrezza safety studies without assistance from Sanofi.
MannKind's stock is down about 28% in Tuesday morning trading.