Sanofi ups diabetes game in India through hospital clinics, local production

SINGAPORE--Sanofi ($SNY) has taken dramatic steps to increase its diabetes-related presence in India, investing in a string of clinics and constructing its first foreign production facility to make its insulin, Insuman, for emerging markets.

Sanofi said it plans to invest $14.5 million through its Sanofi-Synthelabo (India) unit to support the Apollo Sugar Clinics chain of 26 facilities throughout India. The clinics company is a subsidiary of India's Apollo Hospitals. The clinics are intended to provide high-quality integrated care for diabetics in a country that counts 65 million of them and another 77 million prediabetic.

The moves come after the company fired then-CEO Chris Viehbacher shortly after the third-quarter earnings call, in part related to stern competition to its diabetes portfolio from companies such as Novo Nordisk ($NVO). Sanofi has yet to find a replacement, but has pushed ahead on the diabetes front, including plans hatched under Viehbacher's tenures, such as the Sugar Clinics. 

Shantha CEO Harish Iyer

Separately, Sanofi's Shantha Biotechnics unit is investing $74 million in what would become its only production plant outside of Frankfurt, Germany. The 42,650-square-foot plant is expected to be completed and operational by 2019, capable of producing as many as 60 million insulin-delivery cartridges a year.

At a groundbreaking ceremony just outside of Hyderabad, Shantha CEO Harish Iyer said the company expected to be able to reach capacity production within two or three years of becoming operational.

Shantha, which was acquired by Sanofi in 2009, launched Insuman in India in 2011.

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