Although flu is a common infectious disease it can also have serious consequences. It multiplies by 10 the risk of heart attack in the week following infection and by 8 the risk of a stroke or pneumonia. Each year influenza causes between 10,000 and 15,000 deaths in France.
Sanofi has been innovating in the area of flu vaccines for more than 70 years
In 1947, the first flu vaccine was discovered at the Pocono Biological Laboratories, today known as the Sanofi-Pasteur laboratory, in Swiftwater, Pennsylvania (USA). Since then, this French laboratory has constantly improved its technologies and produced an increasing number of innovations. It is currently working on developing three influenza RNAmessenger vaccine candidates. “We hope to start Phase 3 in 2023 and expect to launch in the European market in 2025 or 2026,” said Thomas Triomphe, Executive Vice President Vaccines, Sanofi.
“With our influenza vaccines, we seek to not only prevent influenza but also protect against its severe complications such as heart attack and pneumonia. We aim to ensure that these vaccines, supported by a high level of evidence, are available to protect as many people as possible each flu season,” Dr. Sandrine Samson, Global Medical Affairs Influenza, Sanofi.
After two quiet years in respect of flu pandemics, experts fear a rebound this winter 2022/2023. But Sanofi is optimistic that it can deliver the vaccines. The laboratory has produced 25% more doses than in 2021. “Production, which represents 250 million doses worldwide, was excellent this year. We are extremely confident about our stock levels in France and worldwide,” said Thomas Triomphe. It is reported that 80% of orders have already been delivered in France. Pharmacies complete the orders starting as early as December of the previous year.
The largest worldwide production site for flu vaccines is in Val-de-Reuil, near Rouen, about 100 km from Paris. 125 million doses are produced here every year. In total, flu vaccines generate €2.6 billion of revenue for Sanofi, and represent 7% of its sales. The French laboratory has 35% of global market share. This 30-hectare site also produces pediatric vaccines against rabies and yellow fever.
Sanofi’s so-called “differentiated” vaccine, Efluelda, which has four times more antigen than traditional laboratory vaccine, is specifically designed for people over the age of 65.