French pharma giant Sanofi is pivoting its focus to invest more heavily in vaccines with a plan to invest USD 679 million in vaccine manufacturing operations in the next two years. This announcement came shortly after news of further rounds of layoffs of research staff working on cardiovascular diseases and diabetes in France.
Sanofi is demonstrating its commitment to French manufacturing. The firm has announced it will invest USD 679 million to build a new production site and research centre in France dedicated to vaccine development. Sanofi has been working closely with French authorities to move its plans forward as the nation pushes for more investment in the life sciences. The announcement was publicised as French president Emmanuel Macron visited the Sanofi Pasteur vaccine unit in Marcy-l’Etoile outside Lyon last week to meet with CEO Paul Hudson, Sanofi France president Olivier Bogillot and company president Serge Weinberg.
Hudson has set forth a series of changes aligned with his roadmap for the company since he took the helm in late 2019. The news of the multimillion-dollar investment comes on the heels of talks of another round of voluntary layoffs in which it is reported that some 1,000 jobs in France may be cut in addition to several hundred more in Europe. It is believed that the firm will not close any of its existing plants, but some of its research activity will be stopped, including work in diabetes and cardiovascular research, two areas with flagging revenues and increasing competition.
Hudson is shifting the company’s R&D focus to potential first-in-class cancer medications as well as vaccines, a priority for Sanofi as it works on developing two vaccine candidates for COVID-19 in collaboration with GSK and US outfit Translate Bio. The plan is to create hubs that will be dedicated to vaccine production, which would create at least 200 new jobs.
The first hub to be created will be an Evolutive Vaccine Facility in Neuville sur Saône, an industrial site that will leverage cutting-edge digital vaccine production technologies and create three to four vaccines simultaneously, tripling the current output. Sanofi’s aim in creating this plant is to more easily secure vaccine supplies in case of future pandemics. The other centre will be created at the existing Sanofi Pasteur plant in Marcy-l’Etoile and will be composed of highly advanced laboratories focused on the pre-clinical research and clinical development of vaccines that would combat emerging diseases and pandemics.