Sanofi, a prominent French pharmaceutical company, is not solely focusing on its well-known drug Dupixent. It is actively working on expanding its vaccine franchise and has ambitious plans for prophylactic treatments targeting various diseases. These include respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), pneumococcal disease, and influenza. Sanofi is particularly optimistic about its portfolio of mRNA-based vaccine candidates, which hold significant promise in these areas.
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a common respiratory infection that can be severe, especially in infants and older adults. Sanofi aims to develop a prophylactic vaccine to prevent RSV infection, which could have substantial market potential.
Pneumococcal disease is caused by a bacterium called Streptococcus pneumoniae and can lead to serious illnesses such as pneumonia, meningitis, and bloodstream infections. Sanofi is actively pursuing the development of vaccines to prevent pneumococcal disease and reduce its associated morbidity and mortality.
Influenza, commonly known as the flu, remains a significant global health concern. Sanofi’s efforts in this area involve the development of new and promising mRNA-based vaccine candidates. mRNA vaccines have gained significant attention and success in recent years, as demonstrated by their effectiveness against COVID-19. Sanofi aims to leverage this technology to develop effective flu vaccines that can provide broader protection against different strains of the virus.
Sanofi’s confidence in its vaccine franchise stems from the potential of these prophylactic treatments to generate substantial revenue. The company envisions that by the end of the decade, its vaccine portfolio, including the RSV, pneumococcal disease, and flu candidates, could contribute billions of dollars in revenue.
It is important to note that the success of these vaccine candidates will depend on several factors, including clinical trial results, regulatory approvals, market competition, and public health policies. However, Sanofi’s commitment to advancing its vaccine franchise underscores its dedication to addressing important public health challenges and providing innovative solutions to improve global healthcare.
“When developing new vaccines, our scientists can now choose from nine distinct platforms—probably the largest number in the industry,” Thomas Triomphe, Sanofi’s executive vice president of vaccines, said of the company’s future immunization prospects. And despite big things on the horizon—principally in the form of mRNA—Sanofi’s current prophylactic roster is nothing to sneeze at either, Triomphe added.
“While it all starts with R&D, let me remind everyone that our vaccines business is built on very strong foundations.”
All told, Sanofi’s vaccine portfolio brought home €7,229 billion (about $7.9 billion) in sales for all of 2022. Between 2018 and 2022, Sanofi grew vaccine revenues by 8%, with two of the company’s shots—Fluzone High Dose and the pediatric vaccine Penta/Hexaxim—achieving blockbuster status.
As for the company’s lofty sales target, Sanofi is leveraging a five-pronged plan. First, it aims to become a leader in RSV thanks to its AstraZeneca-partnered antibody blockbuster-in-waiting Beyfortus, plus a pair of experimental shots.
“Our ambition is to lead in RSV across all critical target populations and that ambition starts with Beyfortus in infants,” Kimberly Tutwiler, head of Sanofi’s RSV franchise, said.
With approvals locked down in multiple countries overseas and a green light imminent in the U.S., Sanofi is ready to launch Beyfortus in the 2023 season, Tutwiler said. Manufacturing is already underway, Tutwiler noted, adding that “we expect to fulfill the demand for this first season.” The company expects to score an imminent license and CDC panel recommendation in the U.S., where the company has started contracting and reimbursement talks, she said.
She explained that in the build-up to Beyfortus’ launch, Sanofi has engaged with many physicians and public health experts, who’ve been “waiting for decades for a solution for RSV that they could offer to the broad infant population.”
As for Sanofi’s bread-and-butter influenza franchise, the company says it plans to “continue to win.”
“We have been part of the flu ecosystem for over 70 years and I’m happy to announce that reports of our demise have been greatly exaggerated,” Bill Averbeck, Sanofi’s global head of influenza, said during Thursday’s event. Seqirus’ Flucelvax has recently gained popularity because its cell-based production is considered a better, more reliable option than the traditional egg-based approach.
Averbeck singled out Sanofi’s successes with products like Fluzone High Dose and recombinant protein-based Flublok as a class of “differentiated flu vaccines.”
When it comes to future mRNA vaccines for flu, Sanofi is playing the long game, especially as some of the initial clinical data from mRNA-based flu shots failed to impress.
“First-generation mRNA flu vaccines will not win,” Averbeck explained. “Essentially, we told you that the road to the first-generation mRNA vaccines will be long and difficult, and without significant improvements; they simply will not be commercially viable.”
Averbeck singled out three measures of success for up-and-coming influenza immunizations: protection beyond flu, safety and tolerability, and lastly, administration.
“Any product attempting to be commercially viable in this older adult segment has to replicate the sustained, well-documented performance to the same level as Fluzone High Dose,” Averbeck said.
Aside from flu and RSV, Sanofi also aims to break into the pneumococcal market with another blockbuster hopeful—the phase 1/2 pediatric vaccine SP0202, which is being developed in tandem with SK Biosciences.
Elsewhere, Sanofi is striving to sustain the growth of its established business and make a splash with its cadre of upcoming mRNA vaccines—including shots against RSV in older adults, plus quadrivalent and next-generation flu shots, as well as an mRNA candidate against acne.