Sanofi - Mannkind

Mannkind ($MNKD), with its at-the-time newly approved inhaled diabetes treatment Afrezza, decided in August to join forces with Sanofi ($SNY) to market the drug, pulling in up to $925 million in the process. The partnership marked a win for both sides, with Sanofi adding to its already amped-up diabetes lineup and Mannkind collecting the marketing know-how from one of the giants of the industry.

Mannkind's Afrezza is a drug-device combination with a dry formulation of human insulin delivered through an inhaler. Peak sales estimates came in around $600 million but have also been all over the map, with some much higher and some much lower. But teaming up with Sanofi, which boasts Lantus as the best-selling diabetes drug in the world at $8 billion annually, it's possible the companies could wrangle success.

Mannkind CEO Al Mann

Inhaled insulin comes with some precedent in Pfizer's ($PFE) Exubera, which started as a blockbuster hopeful and ended up flopping in 2007. Afrezza and its inhaler, Mannkind insists, make vast improvements on Exubera, however, and it's now up to Sanofi to get that message across. But things have slowed after a disappointing February launch.

Already, analysts have been voicing their concern after Afrezza launched. Sanofi and Mannkind are dealing with several hurdles, including the overall perception of inhaled insulin, patient care issues and prescription denials from insurers. So far, the results have been lackluster, but with Sanofi at the helm, it's possible it could turn around for both companies. There's still time to tell.

"Sanofi is the ideal partner given their complementary product portfolio, their vast insulin market presence and a leading global commercial infrastructure," Mannkind CEO Al Mann said in a statement at the time of the initial partnership. Right now, they are looking to hit the $1 billion in sales that analysts predicted by 2019.

-- Michael Gibney (email | Twitter)

For more:
Analysts 'skeptical' Sanofi can turn around Afrezza launch, but DTC ads are coming
It's put up or shut up time for Sanofi and MannKind as Afrezza hits the market
Servier gambling up to $1B-plus on Intarcia's PhIII diabetes drug/device
MannKind recruits Sanofi to hawk Afrezza in $925M marketing deal
Sanofi fills some big shoes in $925M Afrezza pact with MannKind

Sanofi - Mannkind