Sanofi partnership to break into $4 billion vaccine market

Sanofi has announced an alliance with SK Chemical to co-develop the Korean company’s innovative pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV).

Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) is used to protect infants and young children against potentially fatal illness caused by the bacteria Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus).

There are currently three PCV vaccines available on the global market: Pfizer’s Prevnar and Prevnar 13 and GSK’s Synflorix. The market is dominated by Pfizer’s products, which earned it just under $4 billion in revenues last year.

Sanofi Pasteur says the new collaboration will give it access to the global PCV market, and hopes to achieve sales by expanding use of PCVs to all countries, as advocated by the The World Health Organisation (WHO).

The collaboration agreement includes research & development, production, and commercialisation of a preventative pneumococcal disease vaccine. Sanofi will make an up-front payment of $23 million to SK Chemical and both companies will invest in the development of the PCV vaccine project. If successful, SK Chemical will produce the innovative vaccine at its production facility located in An-dong, the southern part of Korea. The product, once registered, would be launched globally by Sanofi Pasteur with shared profits outside of Korea, where SK would commercialise it with exclusive rights.

According to the WHO, diseases caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus)–such as pneumonia, meningitis and febrile bacteraemia–constitute a major, global public-health problem; otitis media, sinusitis and bronchitis are more common but less serious manifestations of infection. It is estimated that about 14.5 million episodes of serious pneumococcal disease occur annually, resulting in about 826,000 deaths in children aged 1-59 months.

There is also a problem of growing resistance of pneumococcus to conventional antibiotics, reinforcing the need for vaccines to prevent infection.

SK Chemical recently unveiled its state-of-the-art vaccines production facility. The plant is currently producing various vaccines for clinical trials, and will then move on to producing vaccines at large scale using next-generation technologies.

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