Sanofi to invest €1bn in France to lift ‘health sovereignty’


Sanofi will invest more than €1 billion ($1.08 billion) in new bioproduction capacity at three manufacturing sites in France as part of a €3.5 billion programme in the country.

The latest tranche of investment – at Vitry-sur-Seine in Val de Marne, Le Trait in Seine-Maritime, and Lyon Gerland in the Rhône region – is part of a drive to reduce the reliance of France and the wider EU on manufacturing capacity in other parts of the world and boost supply chain security and resiliency.

The move ties in with the EU’s position on health sovereignty, a concept introduced in the European Commission’s Global Health Strategy document in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It revolves around strengthening pharmaceutical systems and manufacturing capacity for vaccines and other medical products, as well as other measures like early detection of threats and improved prevention, preparedness and response procedures.

Sanofi said the investment programme will create more than 500 jobs and “strengthen France’s ability to control the production of essential medicines from start to finish, for the present day and into the future.”

The company – which is France’s largest pharma group – has previously pledged €2.5 billion in investment in facilities since the COVID-19 pandemic to make sure that production of medicines and vaccines is maintained in its home market.

It says it carries out more than 60% of its global production in the EU and sources only 5% of its active ingredients in Asia, compared to an average of 80% in the pharma industry.

By far, the bulk of the new investment – around €1 billion – is earmarked for the construction of a new facility in Vitry-sur-Seine that will double the site’s capacity to make monoclonal antibodies and other biologic drugs and create 350 jobs.

Sanofi said in a recent pipeline update that it has a dozen potential blockbuster drugs that could generate more than €10 billion ($11 billion) in annual sales by the end of the decade, including biologics being developed for chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), asthma, multiple sclerosis, and type 1 diabetes.

It will also invest €100 million at the Le Trait site in Normandy to create new capacity for biologics formulation, filling, device assembly and packaging, creating 150 jobs, and €10 million in Lyon Gerland to produce Tzield (teplizumab), a biologic for type 1 diabetes that Sanofi acquired last year from Provention Bio in a $2.9 billion deal.

“With these unprecedented industrial investments, we remain true to our history by once again choosing France to produce these future medicines and make them available to patients around the world,” said chief executive Paul Hudson.

“France is, and always will be, at the heart of Sanofi’s strategy.”

AstraZeneca, Pfizer also make commitments

Meanwhile, AstraZeneca and Pfizer have also revealed investments totalling around $900 million in French R&D and manufacturing sites.

Pfizer has pledged €500 million to boost its R&D presence in France, while AZ said it plans to spend $388 million at a facility in Dunkirk.