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Sanofi taps biotech firm to help pipeline

November 11, 2009
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The New York Times reports Sanofi-Aventis has said it would pay an additional $1 billion over eight years to Regeneron Pharmaceuticals for the discovery of new drugs. The agreement is an extension of one signed in 2007. Sanofi had previously agreed to provide $100 million a year to Regeneron. The amount is being increased to $160 million a year, and the pact is being extended five additional years through 2017.Sanofi already owns 19 percent of Regeneron as a result of previous deals but will not increase its stake as part of the new transaction. The drugs being developed are monoclonal antibodies, which are engineered versions of proteins naturally made by the immune system. Under the deal, if Regeneron develops a drug it believes is ready for clinical trials, Sanofi can opt to co-develop it with Regeneron. So far, four antibodies have entered clinical trials in two years, and the companies aim to put four or five new ones into trials each year. That rate is higher than the norm for the industry. Like most big pharmaceutical companies, Sanofi-Aventis is negotiating deals with smaller companies to bolster its pipeline. In particular, it and other big companies are trying to move more into biotechnology, making drugs from living cells instead of from the chemicals they usually use.
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