Sanofi Pasteur and Merck & Co. said today they will end their joint venture in Europe focused on vaccine development after 22 years.
The pharma giants said they will integrate their European vaccine operations into their global operations, manage their own portfolios separately, and pursue separate strategies for growth.
Sanofi Pasteur MSD was launched in 1994 to develop and commercialize vaccines originating from both companies’ pipelines in 19 European countries, as well as improve and promote public health.
According to its website, the joint venture has more than 1000 employees and markets 25 vaccine products for more than 20 infectious diseases.The joint venture’s flagship products include Gardasil for human papillomavirus (HPV) infections, Zostavax for shingles, and Hexyon, a 6-in-1 vaccine for infant immunization.
“We believe that focusing our efforts on opportunities unique to our respective companies will better position us to drive growth, execute in a more efficient manner, and optimize vaccine coverage,” Sanofi and Merck said today in a statement. “By bringing vaccines more rapidly to market, both companies would deliver greater value to all stakeholders.”
The companies added that they expected the breakup of the joint venture to be completed by year’s end, subject to local labor laws and regulatory approvals. The companies promised any impacts on employees “will be managed responsibly,” and that they would remain committed to their public health goals.
The end of Sanofi Pasteur MSD was announced more than a month after Bloomberg News, citing unnamed sources, reported both companies were considering ending the joint venture.
According to the February 1 report, Sanofi CEO Olivier Brandicourt, M.D.—who has been leading an ongoing review of the pharma’s operations since he was appointed last year—was reviewing the joint venture because of a lack of promising pipeline assets.
The joint venture has faced years of slumping sales. According to figures reported by Sanofi, the joint venture finished last year with €824 million ($910.6 million) in sales, down 2.8% from €848 million ($937 million) in 2014, which was 3.3% lower than 2013.
Separately, Sanofi and Merck have pursued development of new vaccines. Sanofi won its first approvals for Dengvaxia®, the world’s first dengue vaccine, last year in Brazil, Mexico, and the Philippines. Merck is awaiting World Health Organization review of its investigational Ebola Zaire vaccine, V920 (rVSVdeltaG-ZEBOV-GP, live attenuated), the subject of an Emergency Use Assessment and Listing (EUAL) application filed by the company.