The biggest stories from French healthcare and pharma, including AstraZeneca’s acquisition of Amolyt Pharma; protests over Sanofi layoffs; Pierre Fabre’s purchase of Kinnate Biopharma’s  experimental pan-RAF inhibitor, and French biotech SeaBeLife’s EUR 1.5 million funding round.


Withdrawal of a flu vaccine due to a price dispute between Sanofi and the health authorities (Le Monde, in French)

The Efluelda flu vaccine will soon no longer be available in France. ‘We wish to inform you that the Efluelda vaccine, marketed by the Sanofi laboratory, will be withdrawn from the market in the coming weeks’, announced the French Ministry of Health’s Directorate General for Health in a message to pharmacists on Tuesday 23 April.

The pharmaceutical group blamed the health authorities for its choice, accusing them of having set too low a selling price for this vaccine, which is reserved for the over-65s, because it was specifically developed to protect those most at risk of complications. It contains four times the dose of the conventional flu vaccine developed by Sanofi, known as VaxigripTetra.


AstraZeneca acquires French biotech Amolyt Pharma for the near-record sum of USD 1 billion (Le Monde, in French)

In the history of French biotech, Amolyt Pharma will undoubtedly figure prominently in the pantheon of French success stories. On Thursday 14 March, the company, based in Ecully in the Lyon metropolitan area, announced that it had been bought out by the British pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca for $1.05 billion (€962 million), an almost unprecedented sum for a French biotech.

‘I’m really proud to have been able to develop the company with the support, among others, of a large core of French investors. I’d like this to show that it’s possible to create a biotech company in France”, says Thierry Abribat, founder and CEO of Amolyt Pharma, which in 2023 had already raised the largest amount of funds in the sector (€130 million) in France.


Ipsen: the French pharmaceutical group starts the year better than expected (Le Figaro, in French)

Having struggled since hitting a one-year high of €130.70 in mid-September 2023, Ipsen shares began to recover in early March. First-quarter sales for 2024 have been well received by investors, as evidenced by the 3.5% rise in the share price on a lacklustre Paris stock market today.

Ipsen’s sales totalled €822.4 million over the period, representing gross growth of 10.9% and organic growth of 13.3%. In these latter terms, growth platforms, i.e. the Group’s best-performing treatments, generated billings of €509.7 million (+16.2%).


Sanofi: demonstration outside Paris headquarters against job cuts (Le Figaro, in French)

‘Sanofi, the Olympic champion of redundancies’: more than 200 demonstrators – employees, trade unionists and political representatives – protested outside the Paris headquarters of the French pharmaceutical flagship on Tuesday against job cuts in oncology research. ‘Olympic Games = throw out oncology’: the demonstrators made numerous references to the Olympic Games, in which Sanofi is a partner, to protest outside the group’s headquarters against a redundancy plan announced earlier this month as a result of the group’s refocusing on immunology.

The plan provides for the loss of 1,200 jobs in R&D worldwide, including 330 in France, mainly (288) at the Vitry-sur-Seine site (Val-de-Marne), and more marginally at Montpellier and Gentilly (Val-de-Marne). Fabien Mallet, a CGT trade unionist at Sanofi France, warned at a press conference before the Annual General Meeting of Shareholders that ‘it is our taxes that are paying for the social break-up at Sanofi’, which ‘wants to fatten up its shareholders at the expense of its employees and patients’.


Kinnate Biopharma Inc. sells its experimental pan-RAF inhibitor, exarafenib, to Pierre Fabre Laboratories (Company website, in French)

Kinnate Biopharma, a clinical-stage precision oncology company, and Pierre Fabre Médicament, SAS, a global oncology company, today announced their agreement to sell exarafenib, the company’s investigational pan-RAF inhibitor, and other assets of the pan-RAF program, pursuant to the parties’ APA. This sale of worldwide rights is part of the company’s previously announced search for strategic alternatives.


The French healthcare system in search of remedies (Le Tribune, in French)

A quarter of a century after being awarded the title of best general healthcare by the WHO, France is facing growing concerns about its deterioration. The place of Pasteur’s country in global competition, the merry-go-round of ministers, and the cohabitation of the public and private sectors were some of the issues examined at the first ‘Health Impacts’ forum.


IFF to sell pharma unit to France’s Roquette in $2.85 bln deal (Reuters)

International Flavors & Fragrances said  it would sell its pharma solutions business to French plant-based ingredients maker Roquette in a deal valued at $2.85 billion, as it looks to focus on higher-margin businesses. The move comes at a time when IFF is seeing demand slow for its food ingredients and solutions business, especially from end-users such as consumer goods companies, amid higher interest rates and inflationary pressures.

French biotech SeaBeLife raises €1.5M to develop drugs for advance form of AMDnchiolitis (Tech Funding News)

Geographic atrophy (an advanced form of AMD) is a serious ophthalmological disease that reportedly affects over five million patients worldwide. As this is an area of significant unmet need in the medical sector, the potential market in Europe and the US is worth an estimated €2.4 billion. By developing innovative treatments such as its drug candidate, French biotech SeaBeLife aims to respond to this unmet need and improve the quality of life for millions of people affected by this disease.

The startup that develops drug candidates intended to block cellular necrosis has raised over €1.5 million in financing for its SeaBeEYE project at the i-Nov 2024 innovation competition.


Sanofi leans on COPD as ‘next major growth pillar’ for its immunology star Dupixent: CEO (Fierce Pharma)

Even as new Sanofi drugs like Beyfortus and Altuviiio come into their own, the French pharma’s immunology powerhouse Dupixent shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, Sanofi is already gearing up for the antibody’s potential debut in what CEO Paul Hudson dubbed the drug’s “next major growth pillar.”

Sanofi is preparing to launch Dupixent in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) “as early as late June,” Hudson said on an analyst call Thursday. The FDA is set to rule on Dupixent’s merits in COPD on June 27. The approval would mark Dupixent’s sixth U.S. indication behind those for atopic dermatitis, asthma, chronic rhinosinusitis with nasal polyps, eosinophilic esophagitis and prurigo nodularis.