GSK facing competition from Sanofi's 6-in-1 shot

Sanofi ($SNY) is one step closer to marketing its latest 6-in-one children's vaccine in Europe, winning the support of the European Medicines Agency's Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use.

The committee's vote doesn't guarantee approval from the European Commission, but the EU's executive branch usually follows the EMA's lead. The vaccine, branded Hexyon, was developed through Sanofi Pasteur MSD, a joint venture between Sanofi and Merck ($MRK), and protects infants against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, hepatitis B, poliomyelitis and invasive infections caused by Haemophilus influenzae type b.

The combo pediatric vaccine market is currently dominated by GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) and its Infanrix Hexa, Bloomberg reports, but Sanofi believes its offering can snatch a share of the market with an easier-to-use shot. Hexyon is the only fully liquid, ready-to-use option for 6-in-one vaccines, Sanofi says, making its administration simpler and faster than with Glaxo's offering.

Sanofi expects Hexyon to be a big driver of growth in its vaccines unit, the company has said, and the French drugmaker is banking on a spate of new treatments to make up for the patent losses of blockbusters Plavix and Avapro. So far, CEO Chris Viehbacher's plan has been a success: Over the past year, Sanofi has won 9 regulatory approvals around the world, Bloomberg notes.

- read Sanofi's statement
- check out the Bloomberg story

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