Fernando Sampaio
Country Lead and General Manager
Sanofi Mexico and Sanofi Pasteur
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View from the Top

Long-Term Commitment During Historic Crisis

By Miriam Bello | Tue, 06/08/2021 - 09:15

Q: When is Sanofi's COVID-19 vaccine expected and how will it contribute to global efforts to combat the disease?

A: Sanofi is the only company in the world that has two different COVID-19 vaccines in development. The first is a candidate vaccine made in collaboration with the US Office of Advanced Biomedical Research and Development (BARDA). It will use our cell-based recombinant protein baculovirus manufacturing platform, currently used to produce the seasonal influenza vaccine, along with an adjuvant. Sanofi Pasteur has joined forces with GSK to develop this vaccine. Sanofi brings to the collaboration the antigen, the protein that stimulates the body's immune response against the virus, which is based on recombinant protein technology. In February, we announced a new Phase II study with 720 volunteers over 18 years of age to select the most appropriate antigen dose for Phase III evaluation of our possible adjuvanted recombinant protein COVID-19 vaccine.

The other candidate vaccine was made in partnership with TranslateBio and will use new messenger RNA technology. The Phase I and II studies began in March and will allow the evaluation of safety, immune response and reactogenicity, after preclinical data showed high levels of neutralizing antibodies.

Q: Sanofi is collaborating with Pfizer/BioNTech to manufacture vaccines. How does this demonstrate Sanofi's commitment to healthcare?

A: Faced with an unprecedented pandemic, Sanofi has sought to respond in the same way: we have generated strategic alliances that allow us to move swiftly toward a solution to block the virus. We decided to help address global needs and support BioNTech in manufacturing its COVID-19 vaccine, given that we have the technology and facilities to do so. As always, our top priority is to focus our efforts and capabilities in the fight against the global pandemic.

Sanofi will provide BioNTech access to its infrastructure and expertise to produce 125 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in the EU in 2021, as we are aware that the sooner the vaccine doses are available, the more lives can be saved.

We have played a vital role in the fight against COVID-19 by mobilizing our industrial capacity around the world to support Johnson & Johnson with the formulation and filling of 12 million doses of vaccines per month. We will also assist Moderna in the manufacture of up to 200 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine starting in September 2021.

Q: How does Sanofi contribute to Mexico's vaccination campaigns and the promotion of safe vaccines?

A: Sanofi is the world's leading producer of the influenza vaccine, hexavalent vaccines for children and a total of 14 vaccines for all ages, which allow us to contribute to the fight against preventable suffering and death.

During the 2021 flu season, Sanofi brought a record number of influenza vaccines to Mexico. Sanofi supplied over 36 million doses, allocating 10 percent more than expected of the global production of influenza vaccines, to meet the demand of the Mexican government.

As part of our commitment to Mexican patients, this year we achieved the registration of our quadrivalent vaccine that will protect Mexicans from four strains of influenza. This vaccine will be available in the public sector in 2022.

To protect Mexican children in 2020, the pentavalent vaccine was replaced by the hexavalent vaccine, which protects against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, poliomyelitis, Haemophilus influenzae type B and hepatitis B. This substitution was carried out with no increase in price to the Mexican government.

Q: How does Sanofi use AI and other technologies to improve drug design and delivery and how does this translate into better patient outcomes?

A: Globally, Sanofi works with specialists in AI to accelerate research on the benefits of certain therapies. There is also great potential in the industrial sector. Sanofi has put in place the factory of the future, which will include intelligent equipment connected with sensors to analyze and control production processes. These state-of-the-art techniques will make it possible to predict and ensure the quality of biological medicines. The use of AI will also further accelerate the development of vaccines and medicines at an unprecedented rate.

Another angle in development is the application of AI in devices that people use all the time: wearables. In Mexico, we have just presented the new application, "Delivering Patient Health," which collects information from patients with diabetes or hypertension to facilitate monitoring their treatments from their mobile devices.

Sanofi has a broad medicine portfolio for patients with type I and II diabetes, which is currently complemented by the use of monitoring technologies to track glucose levels, alert the patient and their doctor to necessary adjustments and ensure adherence to the personalized treatment.

Q: How does your work with the government contribute to democratizing access to healthcare in Mexico?

A: Sanofi has been present in Mexico for more than 92 years. We know that the country constantly faces challenges so we seek to collaborate with the health sector to facilitate the conditions that increase access to medicines and vaccines.

An example of our contribution is the public-private partnership we have with the Ministry of Health for the construction of a new vaccine plant. This plant, which we began building in 2018, will be the first in Latin America to produce the tetravalent vaccine against influenza. The vaccine will be entirely produced in Mexico and can be exported to Latin America starting in 2024. This plant will be owned by the Mexican government from 2032.

Q: What has been the reception of your new multiple myeloma products? What other products will Sanofi introduce in Mexico during 2021?

A: Aside from our current efforts on the development of a COVID-19 vaccine, we are considering a molecule to attack various types of cancer tumors, new solutions for rare diseases, such as Gaucher and Fabry and two potential molecules against hemophilia.

In our high specialty area, we are the first company to bring a monoclonal antibody to Mexico to treat patients with severe atopic dermatitis, a therapy that has the potential to be extended to other indications related to diseases triggered by type II inflammation. The new drug for multiple myeloma is still on the doorstep and we will be able to offer more details as soon as regulatory authorities grant authorization for it, possibly in late 2021 or early 2022.

Q: What are Sanofi's priorities for Mexico in 2021?

A: Mexico is one of the 10 most important countries for Sanofi worldwide. We have the opportunity to collaborate with the health sector in prevention, treatment and self-care.

In addition to investing in the country and the construction of the new vaccine plant, we will continue working to introduce to Mexico vaccines against influenza, pediatric combos and other medicines that patients need. Diabetes is Mexico’s main public health problem and we have bult a portfolio of therapeutic options with various alternatives adaptable to each patient. We have also introduced to the country the first monoclonal antibody for patients with atopic dermatitis and moderate to severe asthma in adolescents and adults, which will revolutionize the clinical approach to diseases of immunological origin and that will undoubtedly transform the lives of patients.

We offer options to patients with rare diseases, various types of cancer and other common but important ailments suffered by the population in this country.

When it comes to self-care, we are researching the expansion of the use of probiotics through our CHC unit. Our brands, including Enterogermina, Pharmaton, Sinuberase and Aderogyl, are recognized as vitamins and over-the-counter medicines for common problems like upset stomach and flu.

 

Sanofi is a pharmaceutical group founded after the merger of Sanofi-Sythelabó and Aventis and has been present in Mexico for 92 years. It is the third-largest pharmaceutical group in the world and a leader in research in Mexico with a new vaccine production plant.

Miriam Bello Miriam Bello Journalist and Industry Analyst