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Sanofi Purchases US Drugmaker Principia Biopharma for $3.7 Billion

Aug. 17, 2020
CEO of Sanofi says purchase strengthens company’s shift to pharmaceutical R&D.

Early August 17, Sanofi, a French pharmaceutical company, announced it would purchase Principia Biopharma Inc. for $3.7 billion. Headquartered in San Francisco, Principia Biopharma specializes in treatments of autoimmune diseases. The agreement includes a cash offer by Sanofi to acquire all shares of Principia stock for $100 per share.

Sanofi CEO Paul Hudson said the purchase would strengthen his company’s investment in pharmaceutical research and development. “This acquisition advances our ongoing R&D transformation to accelerate development of the most promising medicines that will address significant patient needs,” he said in a statement.

As part of the deal, Sanofi will now have access to a class of drugs known as BTK inhibitors, which prevent B-cells from attacking healthy tissues. The deal means that Sanofi will no longer have to pay royalties to Principia Biopharma Inc. for any medicines they develop using Principia’s BTK inhibitors, which are used in treatments for autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis.

“The addition of multiple BTK inhibitors to our pipeline demonstrates our commitment to strategic product acquisitions in our priority therapeutic areas,” said Hudson. Dr. John Reed, global head of Sanofi’s R&D division, said the acquisition was promising in terms of developing new products for treating autoimmune diseases.

Martin Babler, CEO of Principia Biopharma, said the merger would “provide global resources” to get “novel therapies to patients faster.”

According to Bloomberg News, the purchase is the second-largest pharmaceutical acquisition of 2020, coming in behind Gilead Sciences’ purchase of Forty Seven Inc., which manufactures cancer therapies, for $4.9 billion. It’s also Sanofi’s second recent major purchase: in December, the French group announced it would by Synthorx Inc. for $2.5 billion.

Sanofi is currently developing its own COVID-19 vaccine via Sanofi Pasteur, its vaccine division, in partnership with GSK. According to the World Health Organization, the Sanofi Pasteur/GSK candidate vaccine is still in pre-clinical trials. 

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