Sanofi, Pfizer, AstraZeneca invest a combined €1.87B to bolster operations in France

In two months, countries from around the world will send athletes to France to compete in the 2024 Summer Olympics. But this week in Paris is all about lighting the torch for big business. At the “Choose France” summit, biopharma heavyweights are clocking in with their investment plans in the country.

Taking the bronze medal is AstraZeneca, which will spend 365 million euros ($394 million) to enhance its facilities at its manufacturing site in Dunkirk, France. Earning the silver is Pfizer with a pledge to invest 500 million euros ($540 million) over the next five years to bolster its R&D capabilities in France.

But not to be outdone in its home country is gold-medal winner Sanofi. The Paris drugmaker has earmarked more than 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) to increase its manufacturing capacity at three sites in France. The investment will “significantly strengthen France’s ability to control the production of essential medicines from start to finish,” Sanofi said in a release.  

Other biopharma companies that have revealed plans to increase their presence in France are AbbVie, GSK, Novartis, Chiesi and Kenvue, according to a document (PDF) from the French government.

In its seventh year under president Emmanuel Macron, “Choose France” has drummed up a record 15 billion euros ($16.2 billion), with international giants Microsoft (4.3 billion euros) and Amazon (1.2 billion euros) pacing the field. The initiative was created to boost foreign investment by showcasing the advantages multinational companies can realize in France.  

The pledges from biopharma companies come as several—including Pfizer and Sanofi—make significant cuts to streamline their operations.

Sanofi will spend $1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) to build a new facility at its site in Vitry-sur-Seine that will double its capacity to produce monoclonal antibodies and create 350 new jobs, the company said. Among the 12 potential blockbuster drugs Sanofi says are in its pipeline, treatments for chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), asthma, multiple sclerosis and type 1 diabetes could be manufactured there.

Sanofi also has earmarked 100 million euros ($108 million) for its Le Trait facility in Normandy, where it produces anti-inflammatory blockbuster Dupixent. That project will add 150 jobs to the site. Sanofi also has tabbed 10 million euros ($10.8 million) to produce Tzield—a type 1 diabetes treatment gained in the company’s acquisition of Provention Bio—at its facility in Lyon Gerland.

“Thanks to the transformation undertaken since 2020, Sanofi has a record number of medicines and vaccines in development that could become best-in-class and help meet major public health challenges,” Sanofi CEO Paul Hudson said in a release. “With these unprecedented industrial investments, we remain true to our history by once again choosing France to produce these future medicines and make them available to patients around the world. France is, and always will be, at the heart of Sanofi's strategy.”

Pfizer’s investment in France will bolster clinical research collaborations and increase clinical trials, particularly in sickle cell disease and multiple myeloma, Pfizer’s president in France, Reda Guiha, said in a release.

AstraZeneca’s outlay comes on top of a $520 million investment in 2020, which also was revealed during that year’s “Choose France” summit, for R&D and enhancements at its site in Dunkirk.

Also unveiling a commitment in France was GSK with an investment of 140 million euros ($151 million) to modernize its manufacturing facilities in Evreux, Saint-Amand-les-Eaux and Mayenne. This adds to a pledge of 600 million euros ($648 million) to enhance industrial and R&D operations in France from 2024 to 2026.

AbbVie will spend 36 million euros ($39 million) to increase employment at its aesthetic medicine facility in Annecy-Pringy, according to the French government. Meanwhile, Novartis will invest 30 million euros ($32 million) to create a production unit for a vectorized internal radiotherapy for the treatment of prostate cancer.

Johnson & Johnson consumer health spinoff Kenvue will invest 10.7 million euros ($11.6 million) to add 45 jobs and expand production of four products at its plant in Val-de-Reuil in Normandy. Italian drugmaker Chiesi will invest 10 million ($10.8 million) to create 100 jobs at its manufacturing facility in Chaussee Saint-Victor, where it produces treatments for respiratory disorders.