Reuters: Sanofi plans to put dengue program into separate unit

Sanofi ($SNY) has been working on a vaccine to protect against the mosquito-borne dengue virus for 20 years, and now it may be breaking that program off into a distinct unit.

The French drug giant plans to carve out a separate business segment for its dengue vaccine, Reuters reported Wednesday, citing unnamed union representatives who were present at an internal meeting. Analysts speculate that, if approved, Sanofi's vaccine could pull in $1.4 billion in peak sales. The company has previously said it hopes to begin selling the vaccine in 2015.

Sanofi Pasteur, the company's vaccines division, did not respond to a request for comment from FierceVaccines by press time, though a Sanofi spokesperson told Reuters that the company could not speak to details about its dengue vaccine production.

In April, Sanofi unveiled optimistic Phase III data for its dengue vaccine, showing that the shot reduced the incidence of dengue by 56% in a study of more than 10,000 children in Southeast Asia.

The vaccine has the potential to reach blockbuster status, as there are no approved vaccines or dengue-specific therapies on the market. Currently, the tropical disease--which infects up to 100 million people a year--is only treated with supportive care, such as with pain relievers containing acetaminophen. The company expects to unveil final clinical results for its dengue vaccine by late September, according to Reuters.

Meanwhile, competitors like GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK), Merck ($MRK) and Novartis ($NVS) are also working on dengue vaccines but have yet to make it to Phase III trials.

- get more from Reuters

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