Sanofi Moves Away From Diabetes Devices After Sales Slump

  • Drugmaker to `deprioritize' blood-glucose metering devices
  • New CEO Brandicourt shifting focus set by predecessor

Sanofi will focus less on diabetes monitoring devices, Chief Executive Officer Olivier Brandicourt said Thursday, after projecting disappointing sales for the company’s treatments for the disease, including two new products.

Sanofi projects that diabetes sales will probably decline 4 percent to 8 percent annually through 2018. Earlier Thursday, the company said that demand for Lantus, the world’s best-selling insulin, was slumping. The two new drugs -- Afrezza, an inhalable insulin, and Lyxumia, an injectable drug -- are struggling as well.

Half of the sales forecast revision is “related to lower-than-expected penetration of both Afrezza and Lyxumia, as well as a deprioritization of blood-glucose monitoring systems,” Brandicourt told analysts on a conference call. The other half is linked to dimmer prospects for Lantus, which faces generic competition, the CEO said.

It’s a shift from the course set by Brandicourt’s predecessor, Chris Viehbacher. Viehbacher, ousted a year ago today, had sought to build up a broader diabetes business, based also on blood monitoring devices, to help Sanofi offset losses from copycat versions of Lantus. Afrezza is an inhaled insulin that Sanofi licensed from MannKind Corp. for as much as $925 million last year. In 2011 Viehbacher introduced Sanofi’s blood-metering devices, including one linking to Apple Inc.’s iPhone.

The 59-year-old Brandicourt, who took over in April, is scheduled to present his new strategy for the company in Paris on Nov. 6. Losses from the lower diabetes sales prospects will be “partially offset” by cost cuts, Brandicourt told analysts today, declining to elaborate further.

Shares of Zealand Pharma A/S, Sanofi’s partner on Lyxumia, plunged 8.5 percent to 150 Danish kroner in Copenhagen trading today, its steepest decline in two months. Sanofi fell 2.5 percent to 90.99 euros.

Sanofi can still count on Toujeo, a successor to Lantus, and on LixiLan, a combination of Lantus and Lyxumia, to help sustain sales in the years to come, Brandicourt said. Sanofi is expected to file LixiLan for approval by U.S. regulators this quarter.

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