Dispute brewing over exit of Protein Sciences CEO after Sanofi buyout

Protein Sciences CEO Manon Cox has left the company following its Sanofi buyout, but she says it wasn't on her terms.

Not long after its acquisition by Sanofi, Protein Sciences is bidding adieu to its former leader. Yet Manon Cox says the departure wasn't on her terms, according to the Meriden Record-Journal. 

Cox will leave the company, a Sanofi spokesperson confirmed to FiercePharma. According to the Record-Journal, however, Cox claims she was forced out and has contacted an attorney. The publication also reported that Daniel Adams, former Protein Sciences head of business development, has been terminated. Adams cofounded Biogen in 1976, according to his profile on Protein Sciences' website.

A Sanofi spokesperson said "Protein Sciences has been successfully and fully integrated into Sanofi Pasteur and, as such, there is no role of CEO for Protein Sciences. Sanofi Pasteur has acted in accordance with all obligations related to the Protein Sciences acquisition."

Cox, who had been Protein Sciences' CEO for 7 years, served as transition task force leader after the buyout, according to her LinkedIn profile. She served in managerial roles at Protein Sciences for nearly 20 years.

Sanofi picked up Protein Sciences last year after falling short in attempts to purchase Medivation and Actelion, bringing in an FDA-approved influenza vaccine that's made with insect cells in an egg-free process. Sanofi Pasteur is the world's No. 1 flu vaccine distributor and makes tens of millions of flu vaccine doses with eggs each year. 

At the time, Sanofi Pasteur head David Loew said the purchase will allow the vaccines division of the global pharma giant to "broaden our flu portfolio with the addition of a non-egg based vaccine." Cox praised Sanofi at the time of the buyout, saying she expected the company's expertise in flu vaccines would help Flublok, its vaccine that hadn't gained much traction in the market.

The outgoing CEO has long maintained Protein Sciences' technology is superior to existing vaccines. When the Connecticut biotech won FDA approval for its FluBlok Quadrivalent back in 2016, Cox told FiercePharma she felt the company's vaccine would be "the product of choice in time."

"Even influenza vaccine manufacturers are recognizing that, over time, the egg-based production process will become obsolete and will be replaced with a more modern production process," she said.