Sanofi retools French biotech, vax facilities

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Sanofi-aventis is remaking itself in France. The Paris-based drugmaker says it will invest $200 million to remodel and restructure plants over the next four years.

The goal is twofold: To convert chemical industrial activities to biotech and vaccine production by 2014, and to scale production for the diminished demand expected following the expiration of several patent based on synthetic chemistry. "The change toward more biotechnologies corresponds with the evolution of the pharmaceutical world," says Philippe Luscan, senior VP, in an announcement.

The company plans to spend €90 million to create a biosynthetic process at two existing plants. Upgrades are expected to improve the company's global competitiveness in corticosteroid production. Sanofi says it also will build a vaccine plant in Rhone to produce a dengue-fever prophylactic and to house some activities of its vaccines division Sanofi-Pasteur.

Facilities in Romainville are slated for phase-out. Sanofi says it has spent €700 million since 2008 to evolve its chemical production facilities in France to biotech capabilities.

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