One giant leap for MannKind: Sanofi to market Afrezza
MannKind has named Sanofi its global commercial partner on Afrezza in a $925-million deal solidifying the go-to-market plan for the rapid-acting inhalable insulin.
Of the three big diabetes drug companies—Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi—Sanofi perhaps had the most to gain from partnering up on MannKind's new product. The big pharma lacks a blockbuster meal-time insulin but already sells the best-selling long-acting insulin, Lantus.
Indeed, MM&M had reported prior to the announcement that MannKind's greatest hope for a commercial partner on Afrezza would likely come from Sanofi.
Per the agreement between the two companies, Sanofi will assume responsibility for all global commercial, regulatory and development activities pertaining to Afrezza, while MannKind will manufacture it domestically out of a plant in Danbury, CT. Sanofi signed a deal worth up to $925 million for the worldwide licensing rights of the drug. Afrezza received FDA approval in June.
The two drugmakers have also agreed on a profit-sharing structure. Profits and losses will be shared on a global basis, with Sanofi retaining 65% and MannKind receiving 35%. Sanofi will pay MannKind $150 million up front. MannKind could also receive milestone payments of up to $775 million if its sales targets are reached. Sanofi agreed to cover up to $175 million of the collaboration's expenses.
MannKind Chairman and CEO Alfred Mann stated: “Sanofi is the ideal partner given their complementary product portfolio, their vast insulin market presence and a leading global commercial infrastructure.”
Pierre Chancel, SVP of diabetes for Sanofi, echoed that sentiment, calling the newly announced collaboration a close fit with the rest of Sanofi's diabetes portfolio. He said that the drugmaker will market Afrezza as “another insulin therapy option” for patients to manage their diabetes, but without the daily injections.
Sanofi currently sells a fast-acting mealtime insulin, Apidra, but its sales lag behind its competitors. Sanofi also faces the patent expiration next year for Lantus and a looming threat from Eli Lilly and Boehringer Ingelheim's Lantus biosimilar.
The big pharma reported that its second-quarter sales rose almost 1% to $10.8 billion, versus the same period last year, exceeding Wall Street forecasts. Sales of Lantus rose 10.5% during the quarter, to $2 billion.
Further bolstering the performance news was Sanofi's announcement that it and partner Regeneron had acquired a priority review voucher for an experimental cholesterol drug. This helped make up for a timing shortfall as the firms race with rival Amgen to bring a PCSK9 drug to market.