Sanofi (SAN), which bought Genzyme Corp. last year, is seeking new treatments to expand its multiple sclerosis business, said Michael Panzara, Genzyme’s therapeutic area head for multiple sclerosis, immune diseases and neurology.
The drugmaker said today its experimental medicine Lemtrada, which it gained through Genzyme, led to an improvement in disability scores in patients suffering from multiple sclerosis compared with an older treatment in a late-stage trial. The company has another experimental MS therapy, Aubagio, which was under development before the Genzyme purchase.
Beyond Lemtrada and Aubagio, Paris-based Sanofi has other experimental MS compounds in its pipeline “that we are actively starting to look at, and we’re always looking externally for good opportunities,” Panzara said in a phone interview today.
Sanofi Chief Executive Officer Chris Viehbacher spent $20.1 billion last year to acquire Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Genzyme, the largest maker of medicines for rare genetic diseases. After the purchase, he folded Aubagio, Sanofi’s own MS therapy, into Genzyme to build up a multiple sclerosis business.
Aubagio, whose chemical name is teriflunomide, is an oral therapy. Lemtrada, also known as alemtuzumab, is a so-called monoclonal antibody administered to patients through infusions for five consecutive days when they begin the treatment and for another three days 12 months later.
“Alemtuzumab and teriflunomide we view as a beginning,” Panzara said. “You can’t have a world-class MS organization if you don’t fill up the pipeline at all stages of development.”
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