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Sanofi aims to make France a pioneer in mRNA technology

The global pharmaceutical firm has announced plans to invest €935 million over five years to develop a full and independent mRNA value chain in France.

1 Apr 2022

In one fell swoop, Sanofi laid the foundation stone of the future Evolutive Vaccines Facility (EVF) in Neuville-sur-Saône (near Lyon) – at a ceremony attended by Prime Minister Jean Castex and CEO Paul Hudson – and set out the details of its five-year mRNA strategy (2022-2026). The global pharmaceutical firm has decided to devote almost half of its planned investments to France (€935 million of a total €2 billion).

The EVF should be completed by the end of 2025. It will house several fully digital production units capable of producing enzymes, monoclonal antibodies, and up to four vaccines – either mRNA or conventional – at the same time, depending on public health needs.

“(…) France is a core pillar of Sanofi’s mRNA strategy. Considering pandemic-related challenges and unmet health needs in numerous areas, such as oncology and rare diseases, this major investment in a global center of excellence in France will be a key scientific and industrial asset,” says Sanofi’s CEOPaul Hudson. 

Sanofi has been involved in mRNA research since 2018. Its research picked up speed with the acquisition of Translate Bio in 2021. 

The mRNA center of excellence in Marcy L’Etoile is approximately 20 kilometers from the EVF. In addition to R&D, Sanofi plans to expand the production of clinical batches in France, as well as the formulation of lipid nanoparticles (a first in France), the development of significant high-tech component manufacturing capacity, and the production of future vaccines.

The goal today is to get around ten new projects into the pipeline by 2025, including six mRNA vaccine candidates (against influenza, chlamydia, bronchiolitis (respiratory syncytial virus, RSV) and acne).  

While working on vaccines for Covid 19, which it finally scrapped at the end of 2021, Sanofi developed a solid platform that will be used to support its mRNA strategy. 

Although France accounts for just 4% of Sanofi’s revenues, this announcement was a proud reminder of the global pharmaceutical firm’s French roots. A quarter of its workforce is located in France, i.e., 25,000 employees, and 40% of its global production comes from France.

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