Playing catch-up with J&J, Sanofi taps Blackstone for $300M to fund pivotal trial of subcutaneous Sarclisa

Sanofi has turned to Blackstone Life Sciences for help developing a subcutaneous formulation of multiple myeloma drug Sarclisa. Blackstone is putting up $300 million to fund development of the formulation in return for a chance to receive royalties on future subcutaneous sales.

Sarclisa came to market in 2020, leaving Sanofi facing the question of how to make up for the five-year head start it had ceded to Johnson & Johnson’s rival anti-CD38 antibody Darzalex. J&J rammed home its advantage shortly after the FDA approval of Sarclisa by securing authorization of a subcutaneous shot of its blockbuster cancer medicine.

Sanofi began a phase 1 trial of a subcutaneous formulation of Sarclisa in 2019. Now, with a pivotal trial looming into view, the French Big Pharma company has brought on outside investment to fund the next steps in its development program.

Blackstone’s $300 million commitment will fund a pivotal study that is due to start in the second half of the year. Sanofi is yet to say what percentage of subcutaneous sales Blackstone has secured in return for the outlay. 

The formulation is a product of Sanofi’s collaboration with Enable Injections, a medtech company that recently reeled in $215 million to fund work on its subcutaneous drug delivery system. Enable Injections’ device, enFuse, consists of a wearable drug delivery disc and a system for transferring the drug from its original vessel.

Sanofi partnered with Enable Injections in 2019, around the time the phase 1 trial of the subcutaneous Sarclisa formulation started, but, at that time, it opted against disclosing which of its treatments are covered by the multiproduct deal. 

Working with Enable Injections provides Sanofi with a potential point of differentiation versus Darzalex Faspro, the subcutaneous formulation of J&J’s blockbuster multiple myeloma drug. Darzalex Faspro is given as an injection that takes three to five minutes to administer. Patients initially need to receive the injection every week, although over time the schedule extends to up to every four weeks.