Is this it?

Is this it?

Yesterday Sanofi (NYSE:SNY) showcased their future product launches which of course included what they have coming in diabetes. As everyone knows the franchise has been struggling and Lantus, the goose that lays the golden eggs, will soon face generic competition. The company has pinned their future on three products Toujeo, Afrezza and LixiLan. Toujeo is supposed to replace Lantus the major selling point being fewer hypoglycemic events. Afrezza according to yesterday’s presentation is not a “better” short-acting insulin as MannKind (NASDAQ:MNKD) but a patient friendly insulin because it’s inhaled rather than injected. LixiLan is combination of Lantus and a GLP-1 taken once daily.

A few quick points here –

First while Toujeo is a better insulin than Lantus is not that much better or at least not enough better to justify the switching of patients from Lantus to Toujeo, especially when there will be a generic Lantus on the market.

Based on the comments made yesterday the company is falling into the same trap as Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) did with Exubera promoting it primarily as more patient friendly insulin rather than a better short-acting insulin.

LixiLan is just one of many insulin/GLP-1 combinations coming to market and is targeted at almost the exact same patients who the company sees using Afrezza.

Yet the biggest problem faced by each of these products is where they will land on formulary and what will payors be willing to pay for these less than impressive products. The simple fact is Sanofi is banking their diabetes future on three products which really aren’t that much better than what’s already available, products that are incrementally better not significantly better. Each will face serious competition and none standout in their respective category.

The harsh reality for Sanofi is they lack the depth of diabetes products necessary to compete effectively with Lilly (NYSE:LLY), AstraZeneca (NYSE:AZN) and Novo Nordisk (NYSE:NVO). Lilly and Astra have the deepest diabetes portfolios while Novo has greater depth in the injectable therapy area. With cost control being the order of the day and payors favoring single source contracting the simple fact is Sanofi without major changes is really just a one hit wonder and that one hit will soon face some serious competition.

Based on the tone of questions in the question and answer session analysts like Diabetic Investor aren’t buying what the company is selling. A fact which really should surprise no one given the company’s less than impressive track record in diabetes for products not named Lantus.  Listening to this presentation we came away feeling that company is trying too hard to convince analysts of something they themselves do not believe. That the company knows that this trio of less than impressive products won’t come anywhere close to replacing a fraction of the revenue that will be lost when Lantus goes off patent.

Perhaps this is why the Vice President of US Diabetes Sales has resigned. Hardly a surprising move given that Serge Weinberg the acting CEO publicly threw the entire sales organization under the bus for the recent failures of Lantus.

The bottom line for Sanofi and diabetes is no one is buying what they are selling, not even the team they have assembled to sell it.  No wonder they haven’t found a new CEO.