Another one bites the dust

Another one bites the dust

Today the French national soccer team known as Les Bleus’ will face off against Germany in the European Championship semifinal. With the game being played in Marseille the entire French nation will be watching giving Les Bleus’ a distinct home field advantage if there is such a thing in soccer. While we cannot confirm that our wine drinking friends will be watching or perhaps in attendance, we do know one thing Olivier and our good buddy Serge could use a break.

Yes, just when we thought the much talked about reorganization of the struggling diabetes franchise was over, that all the beheadings had taken place our wine drinking friends brought out the guillotine again. This time it was Andrew Purcell, the head of US Diabetes. According to an internal memo that went out to Sanofi (NYSE: SNY) employees yesterday; “The US business continues to evolve, and that it is particularly true as we look across our diabetes franchise. Given the challenges and opportunities ahead, including the need to maximize our insulin glargine performance, prepare for two anticipated product launches this summer, and respond to increasing competitive pressures, a leadership change is being made to further support our business objectives.”

This nice little note was penned by Chris Kaplan, Head North America Diabetes & Cardiovascular BU, who will be taking over Mr. Purcell’s duties until a replacement can be found.

What we find interesting here is not necessarily that Purcell got the act, after all Olivier and Serge have to blame somebody for the failed strategies that management put in place. No what we find interesting is the words Chris used in his thoughtful note, “need to maximize our insulin glargine performance”. Since Chris has only been at Sanofi seven months we can attribute this remark to still being in the education mode. Once brought fully up to speed Chris will learn that when it comes to insulin glargine performance the goose that laid the golden eggs has been cooked.

He’s also about to learn that his brethren aren’t very good at launching one product at a time let alone two. That those increasing competitive pressures that he’s feeling now will seem like a nice day at the spa once Basaglar hits the US market. That his main competitors Lilly (NYSE: LLY) and Novo Nordisk (NYSE: NVO) have better products, better strategies and most importantly a proven track record for executing those strategies. While Sanofi has proven that the only thing they are really good at is making a mess of things and then beheading those who management believe was responsible for these consistent screw-ups.

We hate to overstate the obvious here but when it comes to diabetes our wine drinking friends don’t have much of a future. That they would be better off selling this beleaguered franchise and concentrating on something they do well, whatever that may be. They had a great run with Lantus but that run is over and its time to move on. Time and time again they proven they just don’t have what it takes to move beyond Lantus, to be a serious long term player in diabetes.

Needless to say we would advise anyone who’s considering taking Mr. Purcell’s job to get a front loaded contract that includes a fat severance package too. We would also advise Chris to get up to speed quickly as Olivier and our good buddy Serge won’t hesitate to put his head on the block should he fail at executing their failed strategies. We would further advise everyone connected with this screwed up sinking franchise to keep their resumes up to date.

So good luck to Les Blues’ today against a very tough Germany team. Perhaps the national soccer team can do something for the French people that their homegrown once powerful pharmaceutical company cannot, provide a sense of pride for a job well done. About the only thing our good buddy Serge has done is screw up what was a very good thing.