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Sanofi CEO sees opportunities in digital, diagnostics

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Sanofi CEO Chris Viehbacher

If you think Sanofi CEO Chris Viehbacher is done diversifying, think again. At a time when other companies are chucking "ancillary" units to zero in on their core drug-making businesses, Viehbacher wants to do just the opposite.

As Bloomberg reports, Viehbacher figures that Sanofi's ($SNY) diverse units--prescription drugs, consumer health products and more--can add up to a focus on patient health. "I believe in this healthcare approach," he told the news service in an interview.

That means investing in some things that AbbVie ($ABBV) and Pfizer ($PFE), for instance, have left behind. Since its debut as a standalone company last month, AbbVie no longer shares a figurative roof with medical devices and diagnostics. Sanofi would like to build up in both areas, particularly in digital technologies that work in concert with treatments.

"The marriage of digital technologies with therapeutics is only going to grow," Viehbacher said, adding that he'd like to find partners that could offer digital expertise. He'd like diagnostics partners, too; Sanofi should "be active in diagnostics ... but I think we will do that through partnerships, not acquisitions," he told Bloomberg.

Sanofi isn't alone in this diversity-is-good approach; Novartis ($NVS) and GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) range widely as well. Even Roche ($RHHBY), proud of its pharma-centric status, has its complementary diagnostics business. We'll have to wait several years to judge whether diversifying or specializing is more successful.

- read the Bloomberg interview

Special Report: Christopher Viehbacher - The 25 most influential people in biopharma today

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