Throw it at the wall

Throw it at the wall

There are times when we wonder whether our wine drinking friends in France have any other diabetes strategy then let’s throw stuff at the wall and see what sticks. Just this morning the company announced they have signed yet another diabetes deal. Per a company issued press release;

“Exscientia Announces EUR250 Million Collaboration for a Multiple-Product Development and Licence Option Agreement with Sanofi”

Now we will admit that until today we had never heard of Exscientia but the fact they partnered with Sanofi (NYSE: SNY) does make us question their judgement. Listen we know they need the bucks but given Sanofi’s history with diabetes partnerships one does wonder. Yet in many respects this is the company’s new diabetes strategy which seems to be let’s throw it all the wall and see what sticks.

It’s no secret that the company is struggling mightily in diabetes. Lantus, the goose that once laid the golden eggs is now a dead duck. Toujeo, the over-hyped replacement for Lantus is going nowhere in a hurry while the remainder of the diabetes portfolio is stuck somewhere between neutral and reverse.

Now we aren’t surprised the company wants to rebuild this once highly profitable franchise and doing this type of deal are common throughout the industry. However, what’s lacking with Sanofi, what’s always been lacking with Sanofi is a cohesive well thought out strategy for recovery. Just by way of comparison although it seems like ancient history there was a time when Lilly (NYSE: LLY) seemed to be on the brink of becoming irrelevant in diabetes. After years of leading the way the company was getting their butt kicked by Novo Nordisk (NYSE: NVO) and Sanofi.

To their credit, Lilly did not stick their heads in the sand and took a hard look at their legacy franchise. This review went beyond the traditional what do we have in our pipeline review and included what the diabetes drug landscape would look like when the products in the pipeline came to market. The company then went about building not just a comprehensive portfolio of diabetes drugs but a corporate structure that would allow them to compete and win. Sure, there were some missteps along the way but the company never wavered from their strategy. A strategy which is paying huge dividends today as Lilly once again is on top of the diabetes drug world.

Novo is going through this exercise today. Like Lilly they have taken a hard look at their legacy franchise and are taking the steps necessary to get back in the game. Like Lilly this repurposing is going beyond what drugs are in the pipeline and includes the new market realities of the diabetes drug landscape.

The hard truth is that Sanofi really isn’t a major pharmaceutical company with an interest in rebuilding their diabetes franchise. No Sanofi is a bank that finances a bunch of deals in the hope that something good will happen.  Or put another way they have become a farmer who spreads a lot of manure in the hope that something good will grow. No thought has been given to whether whatever does grow will be needed when it grows. No thought has been given to what the diabetes drug landscape will look like when these crops come to market.

This throw it at the wall strategy goes beyond diabetes drugs and now includes diabetes devices as well. As we reported the company has made public statements that they may buy their way into the diabetes device market. That the time is right to jump into conventional glucose monitoring and/or insulin pumps. Now never mind that both markets are struggling and the competition is intense. Nope when you have gobs of money to throw around minor things like poor market dynamics don’t seem to matter much. Nor does it seem to matter much that the last time they played in this sandbox it was a complete and utter disaster.

The harsh reality is Sanofi cannot face harsh realities. Something that shouldn’t come as a surprise given that Sanofi is one company that holds no one in management accountable. That is until it’s obvious that management has screwed up and then watch out the beheadings begin.

Now we will not relist all the failed diabetes partnerships the company has attempted. Failures which could have been avoided had the company taken a hard and real look at not just the company’s they were partnering with but what the diabetes market was really like. Nope instead of viewing the world as it is they did what they always do; throw money at the problem in the hope that something good will result.

We find it interesting that another Sanofi diabetes partnership seems destine for failure. It’s been sometime since we have heard anything of substance about the much-ballyhooed partnership with Google. Another partnership Sanofi threw money at in the hope that something good would happen.

Listen we don’t blame Google or any other company for taking Sanofi’s money, as Canada Bill Jones used to say, “It’s immoral to let a sucker keep their money.” And given Sanofi’s track record they are making a mockery of another famous poker saying that you can share a sheep many times but skin him only once. When it comes to Sanofi and diabetes partnerships not only can this sheep be shared over and over but it can be skinned continually as well.