It’s about time to view our wine drinking friends in France through a different set of eyes. As the results today clearly showed Sanofi (NYSE: SNY) is no longer a serious player in diabetes. The simple fact is the Lantus gravy train has run its course and the remaining products in the portfolio are mere commodities. There isn’t much help in the pipeline which is full of me too copycat late to market products which is typical Sanofi.
The question is can Sanofi rebuild this franchise? Can they have a Lilly (NYSE: LLY) like turnaround and once again be a serious player? Based strictly on past performance we would say absolutely not. The facts, yes, those pesky facts tell us that Sanofi lacks the vision, talent and leadership to make this happen. Put in baseball terms Sanofi needs a Theo Epstein but last, we looked Theo has a job and is doing quite nicely thank you very much.
Now if there was something to hang their hats on it’s never talked about. Last time we looked Sanofi is still partnered with Google. A project they have invested almost $250 million in. A project which has yet to yield anything of substance.
This lack of news can be attributed to a few things. First the partnership is still relatively new and while moving forward is still staffing up. Second, there is more than a fair amount of paranoia with these cash rich high tech companies. Why we aren’t certain as there are only so many ways to skin a cat no matter what these companies think. Third, Sanofi is not in a position to complain as Google is in complete control here so basically all Sanofi can do is watch and wait like everyone else.
Our sources inside the company tell us that Sanofi is getting more than a little impatient with this lack of progress and all this secrecy. That they aren’t all that thrilled with how things are being done. Which we find funny given that the company basically threw themselves at Google and ponied up $250 million for the privilege. Unless the Sanofi lawyers are complete morons, and they aren’t, they knew exactly what they were signing. They knew from day one that Google would be in complete control.
The simple fact is Sanofi as they so often do did not think through this deal. They figured that just being associated with Google would add some luster to their struggling franchise. They knew that Lilly and Novo Nordisk (NYSE: NVO) would be thrilled to work with Google which is why they ponied up $250 million and did not ask for any control. Simply put Google was holding all the aces and Sanofi had no choice or risked being left out in the cold.
At this point we aren’t sure what if anything this partnership will yield. As it stands today all the big techies are making the deep dive into diabetes. Each has what they believe is the magic potion. Yet we are beginning to believe none of them have anything close to the secret sauce. The good news is they have time and money on their side. It also does hurt that they don’t need to be in diabetes but want to be in diabetes.
The bad news is they could make a very common mistake and over complicate things. For all the talk about whiz bang way cool cloud enabled what patients want more than anything is simplicity. We’ve said it before and we will say it again; most of these people have a chronic disease they do not understand, did not want which requires more than a little work to manage properly. They do not need a thermal nuclear weapon to kill a mosquito, but this seems to be the track everyone is running on.
So, at this point Sanofi should look on the bright side as this could be the one time a diabetes partnership fails and it’s not their fault.