Sanofi is out to make all the world's creatures a little healthier. The company, formerly known as Sanofi-Aventis, develops and manufactures prescription and over-the-counter drugs and vaccines for mankind and man's best friend. Sanofi's pharmaceutical division is its biggest revenue generator with top sellers that include blood thinners Plavix and Lovenox, cancer drug Taxotere, and insulin brand Lantus. US consumers will recognize at least one of the brands produced by subsidiary Chattem (Gold Bond, Icy Hot, and Selsun Blue, to name a few). Sanofi also operates Merial, one of the world's largest animal health firms. Subsidiary Sanofi Pasteur makes vaccines while its Genzyme unit makes biopharmaceuticals.
The company operates worldwide, marketing its products through direct sales representatives and through partnering firms. For example, Sanofi co-markets cardiovascular drugs Plavix and Aprovel with Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS). It also has agreements with Warner Chilcott to market osteoporosis drug Actonel and with Teva Pharmaceuticals for Copaxone.
In the vaccines market, Sanofi's biggest sellers include pediatric combination vaccines and the cervical cancer vaccine Gardasil (marketed through an agreement with Merck). Subsidiary Sanofi Pasteur is also a top maker of flu vaccines, and has received a boost from growing concerns over the possibility of an influenza pandemic. While its vaccine business only makes up about 10% of the company's sales, Sanofi has made small acquisitions to keep its pipeline pumping.
Sanofi's animal health operations are conducted through its Merial subsidiary, which was formerly a 50-50 joint venture with Merck.
Sales and Marketing
Products are distributed via large wholesalers and to retail chains and health care organizations. Europe and North America are the firm's largest markets.
Sanofi has worked hard to diversify its operations in the wake of and ahead of patent expirations for some of its biggest sellers. Its allergy blockbuster Allegra and sleep aid Ambien have both lost their patent protection in recent years (as has Lovenox), clearing the way for generic competition. Another top seller, Plavix, lost patent protection in the US in 2012 (resulting in reduced royalties from marketing partner BMS), as did blood pressure drug Avapro. Sanofi's diversification strategy hinges mainly upon making strategic acquisitions in its core therapeutic areas, as well as in new markets and emerging regions poised for growth.
Another area in which the company has been particularly focused on growing is the worldwide OTC market, largely through its US Chattem division. Through its majority-owned India unit, Aventis Pharma, Sanofi also expanded its portfolio by buying the marketing and distribution business of Universal Medicare, which makes more than 40 branded nutraceutical formulations in India.
Not one to miss an opportunity, Sanofi decided it too would take advantage of patent expirations by growing its generics business, especially in the European generics market where it maintains the Winthrop brand. It has also established a generic presence in emerging markets (another growth area for the company) in the Middle East, Latin America, and Asia.
The company is also increasingly relying on partnerships and licensing agreements with other firms and academic institutions to support its research efforts. For instance, Sanofi has a major outsourcing agreement with contract research organization (CRO) Covance. The deal, worth up to $2.2 billion, includes Covance's purchase of two Sanofi R&D facilities in Europe. Covance will provide drug development services to the company through a 10-year contract.
Mergers and Acquisitions
To boost its offering of delicate biopharmaceuticals, Sanofi acquired prescription drug firm Genzyme in 2011 for some $20.1 billion after months of negotiation including a lower, hostile bid failed. The deal included an additional $3.8 billion that was contingent on the future performance of Genzyme's lead drug candidates (including multiple sclerosis candidate Lemtrada) and its manufacturing facilities. The purchase of Genzyme gave Sanofi a portfolio of products focused on rare inherited disorders, kidney disease, orthopedics, transplant and immune disease, cancer, and diagnostic testing. Its top product is rare disease treatment Cerezyme for Gaucher's disease. Following the acquisition, Genzyme became the headquarters of the parent's rare disease program. Once Genzyme was formally part of its structure, the company chose to simplify the collective organization's identity by shortening its name from Sanofi-Aventis to simply Sanofi.