With key rollouts looming, Sanofi's Genzyme chief Meeker hands over the helm

sanofi HQ
Sanofi has been rejigging its management and operations amid pressure on its diabetes franchise and increasing reliance on biologic meds.

As Sanofi gears up its biggest launch of the year, the Genzyme chief tasked with overseeing that rollout is leaving the company.

David Meeker, CEO of the U.S.-based Sanofi unit and EVP overall, will exit as of June, with Bill Sibold—Sanofi Genzyme’s head of multiple sclerosis, oncology and immunology—taking his place.

It’s not as if Meeker will hand off the baton to someone who’s not steeped in Dupixent, the atopic dermatitis drug, partnered with Regeneron, that won approval last week. Sibold has been prepping for that launch, along with the potential rollout of rheumatoid arthritis med sarilumab, Sanofi said in its announcement of the move.

Sibold’s ascendance comes as Sanofi Genzyme grows in importance for the France-based drugmaker. Pegged as one of the company’s “growth platforms” from the days after ex-CEO Chris Viehbacher engineered the acquisition, Genzyme is shouldering an even bigger load now.

It’s another in a series of executive changes at Sanofi as well, as CEO Olivier Brandicourt, who took the helm in February 2015, shuffles his team and the divisions they lead.

In July 2015, Brandicourt consolidated prescription drugs and consumer health into three business units, a move that put Sanofi’s specialty drugs, including oncology, under Meeker at Genzyme. 

Then, in November 2015, Brandicourt unveiled a “strategic roadmap” for the company; a few months later, Brandicourt revamped the French drugmaker’s top management team to fit. Diabetes and cardiovascular chief Pascal Witz departed in that shakeup.

Now, Sanofi Genzyme has charge of its original slate of rare disease drugs, plus Sanofi’s MS franchise; its immunology meds, including Dupixent and sarilumab; and its cancer drugs—and with diabetes blockbuster Lantus facing biosimilar competition, plus other market pressures, those drugs are more important than ever.

Indeed, the company said in December it would cut 20% of its salesforce in the diabetes and cardiovascular drugs, just as the Lantus biosim, Basaglar, neared the market.

Meanwhile, Sanofi and Regeneron just scored their biggest new drug approval of the year in Dupixent (dupilumab) the first approved drug to inhibit the IL-4 and IL-13 immune system pathways—and the first new treatment in years for atopic dermatitis, a form of eczema that can be debilitating for patients.

With a list price of $37,000, set after up-front conversations with payers, Dupixent is expected to bring in sales of $3 billion-plus, not just in eczema but potentially asthma, severe nasal allergies and more.

Sanofi has also swapped off its animal health unit to Boehringer Ingelheim to build up in consumer health, and it’s shopping its European generics business to raise cash for deals and streamline its operations.