Case study: how Sanofli dealt with the patent cliff


As Pfizer’s iconic (nearly $11B is sales in 2010) drug Lipitor comes off patent at the end of the month and Pfizer faces new antitrust allegations, IPBlog has spent some time researching how organizations have managed the patent cliff (see here and here).  As reported by AP, Sanofli sales for its 19 top drugs saw 13 of them fall in the first half of 2011, including Plavix and Avapro, both of which have their patents expire next year. The management plan can be reduced to four discreet steps:

  1. Christopher Viehbacher, CEO, was hired in 2008, for the most part to manage the patent cliff.
  2. The new CEO reorganized the company into six growth platforms, with developing or acquiring products with indefinite lifespans:  vaccines, consumer health, veterinary medicines, diabetes therapies, drugs for rare disorders and products for emerging markets (countries where a growing middle class is buying more medicine.)  These platforms which represented 40% of sales in 2008 will grow to 80% of sales in 2015.
  3. Sanofli research was restructured to initiate more partnerships and focus on products with high commercial potential.  This triaging of IP forced the company to scrap 30 separate research projects not meeting the new commercial criteria.
  4. The inevitable cost control measures were instituted, a plan which will have reduced spending by $4B euros by fiscal 2015.


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