Sanofi Sees No Opening to Actelion Talks After J&J Re-Entry

  • Actelion one of the best at innovation, Sanofi R&D boss says
  • Sanofi plans to ‘fight’ after losing Praluent court ruling

Sanofi doesn’t see an opening to make a deal with Actelion Ltd. while the Swiss target is in acquisition talks with U.S. drug giant Johnson & Johnson, said Elias Zerhouni, the French drugmaker’s global research and development president.

“There is an exclusive relationship right now with J&J,” Zerhouni said Monday during an interview with Bloomberg Television’s Erik Schatzker at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco. “At this moment, you have to abide” by those terms, he said.

Actelion and J&J returned to the negotiating table last month, entering exclusive discussions about a possible transaction. Sanofi had been in advanced talks to buy Actelion after J&J initially dropped out, according to people familiar with the matter. 

Zerhouni, a former Actelion board member, still sees the company as a fit with Sanofi’s portfolio of drugs because of its strength in pulmonary hypertension and focus on rare diseases.

“It is really an innovative company,” he said. “You have to open up to the best, and Actelion is one of the best.”

Praluent Fight

Sanofi is also fighting a legal battle after a U.S. court last week blocked the French company and its partner Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. from selling their cholesterol-lowering drug Praluent in the U.S. Rival Amgen Inc. has contended that the sales infringe its patents for a related drug. 

A federal judge on Monday extended a stay of the ruling by 15 days, giving Sanofi and Regeneron 45 days to conduct an appeal before they have to stop selling Praluent.

“It’s a fundamental issue of whether or not intellectual property trumps public health and the public interest,” Zerhouni said. “This discussion is not over. In my view, we believe very strongly this is an invalid patent and we will fight it.”

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