Sanofi India is “resetting its footprint”, said Managing Director Rodolfo Hrosz, outlining innovative products lined up for India by the French healthcare major and putting a lid on concerns that emerged after it inked three distribution deals with local companies, last month.

“What worked for us in the past may not be what we need for future growth and therefore we have embarked on a journey of resetting our footprint in India, making our business fit for future growth,” Hrosz told businessline, sharing Sanofi India’s strategy to build on its 67-year presence in the country.

Sanofi’s pre-filled insulin pens, Soliqua, will be available in the market from today, he said and Rezurock, a post-transplant treatment, is being lined up for the end of 2024/early 25. Other “super innovative therapies” being evaluated for India included Dupixent (for atopic dermatitis); Tzield (that delays the onset of stage 3 Type 1 diabetes) and Beyfortus (a vaccine against RSV - Respiratory syncytial virus), he added.

Customised distribution partnerships

In March, Sanofi formalised three “customised” distribution partnerships with Emcure, Cipla and Dr Reddy’s Laboratories for its cardiovascular, central nervous system (CNS) and paediatric /adult vaccine brands, respectively – leading to concerns on possible deprioritisation of the local business, as witnessed with some industry peers.

Hrosz counters with, “One important detail – we didn’t sell the brands”. Stressing the distribution and promotional nature of the agreements, he said, “We continue to own, produce and book sales on these brands. They are still our brands.” The decision to partner with local companies was to maximise the reach of Sanofi’s brands through the latter’s networks, he said. “Sanofi’s capability is limited to an extent that we can go to only maybe tier 1 / tier 2 and there is a huge part of India, we don’t go to,” he explained, on taking their brands deeper, through local partnerships. The deal with Emcure also saw about 250 employees move from Sanofi to the partner, he said.

Diabetes, a priority category for Sanofi (with oral drugs and insulins) – is seeing much competition in India from foreign and local companies. But governments and patient groups are keeping a close watch on this segment, urging drugmakers to make their innovative drugs and insulins affordable. Hrosz points out, that insulin brand Lantus took a 25 percent price reduction on entering the NLEM (National List of Essential Medicines). It was already pegged at among the lowest prices in the world, he said, adding that further reduction would help reach more patients.

Addressing a sensitive topic for multinationals in India, he said, the more India can expand IP (Intellectual Property) protection, already happening in recent years, the more it will attract global companies to bring innovation to the market. On recent observations that the “China-plus-one” strategy was giving way to going back to China for sourcing, following quality concerns in the pharmaceutical industry, he said, Sanofi has an important industrial footprint here, with the Goa plant providing for India and other parts of the world. “That hasn’t changed,” he said, adding that the company continued to rely on India as an important supplier of medicines for the local and other markets.

Consumer healthcare

The early second half of the year (post-July) would see the demerger of Sanofi’s consumer healthcare business take shape, including a listing - that is also part of the “resetting” strategy, he said. Sanofi will own over 60 per cent of both arms.