Sanofi-aventis invests €150m in France

French pharmaceutical giant continues its move towards biotechnologies

Sanofi-aventis is to invest €150m over four years to build its biotechnology manufacturing facilities in France.

The project aims to restructure chemical facilities to prepare for a decline in production as the drugmaker faces patent expirations of several major drugs derived by synthetic chemistry.

It will include a €90m investment to create a new biosynthetic process in plants in Saint-Aubin-Lés-Elbeuf, in northwestern France, and Vertolaye, in central France to improve its global competitiveness in corticosteroid output. The project is expected to create local jobs, said Sanofi.

In parallel, the firm said it would gradually phase-out of the facilities in Romainville, in Seine-Saint Denis, France, by the end of 2013. The closure will be accompanied by a ‘job stimulus plan’ in the area.

‘The change of our industrial network towards more biotechnologies corresponds to the evolution of innovation in the pharmaceutical world, more balanced between vaccines and compounds arising from biotechnologies, and active ingredients derived from synthetic chemistry,’ said Philippe Luscan, Senior Vice President, Industrial Affairs, Sanofi-aventis.

The company said it would facilitate career mobility by offering biotechnology training to 700 staff.

Under the plan, Sanofi will also add to activities at its new facility in Neuville-sur-Saône, near Lyon, where the new vaccine against dengue fever will be produced. This plant will become the Group’s third largest European centre fully dedicated to vaccines by 2014.

Sanofi said it would have devoted a total of €700m in investments to turn its chemical production facilities in France to biotechnology capabilities by 2014.