Sanofi ($SNY) and Coca-Cola. Odd couple or match made in commercial heaven? The two companies are engaging in a pilot project to find out. They're collaborating on a line of drinks, called Beautific Oenobiol, aiming to capture health-conscious consumers with claims about improved skin, stronger hair and increased vitality, The Wall Street Journal reports.
It's Sanofi's latest foray into consumer health, part of CEO Christopher Viehbacher's diversification strategy. Preparing for the loss of patents on big drugs such as Plavix and Lovenox, Viehbacher stepped up Sanofi's game in consumer health and veterinary products, while expanding geographically into emerging markets.
The drinks business will begin with four products made with mineral water, fruit juice and nutritional ingredients, WSJ says. One would be billed as a hair-and-fingernail strengthener; the rest as aids to weight loss, vitality and skin. If they catch on in France, where they'll be sold in pharmacies, the products could be rolled out across Europe.
Sanofi won't be the only Big Pharma hawking health drinks. GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK), Viehbacher's former employer, sells sports and nutrition beverages.
As the WSJ notes, the news of Sanofi's Coca Cola partnership was aired at a meeting with French union reps about the drugmaker's impending layoffs. Some members were offended by the venture. In light of the big R&D cuts in France, "We find it shocking," one told the newspaper.
- read the WSJ piece (sub. req.)