Sanofi actions hiring freeze on back of poor Afrezza performance, ex-sales rep claims

By Dan Stanton

- Last updated on GMT

Sanofi is the commercialisation partner of inhaled insulin developer MannKind
Sanofi is the commercialisation partner of inhaled insulin developer MannKind

Related tags Marketing Sanofi

Sanofi has reportedly issued a hiring freeze across its commercial team for its inhaled insulin product, Afrezza.

From its US launch in February 2015 until the end of June, Sanofi reported​ €3m ($3.4m) in revenue for Afrezza.

MannKind Corporation - which developed the inhaled insulin product and partnered with Sanofi on its commercialisation - has previously said​ the “slow start”​ is nothing to worry about, but an ex-Afrezza sales rep has revealed to that Sanofi is struggling to manage both this product and its basal insulin Toujeo, also launched in February.

The sales rep claimed that as a result the company announced a hold on recruitment for the Afrezza sales team late September.

He said Sanofi has restricted the number of reps pushing the inhaled insulin product in favour of Toujeo, an extended release version of its bestseller Lantus, “because Afrezza wasn’t doing so well.”

Sanofi silent

Sanofi did not respond to requests for comment on the reportedly poor sales for Afrezza nor would it confirm the hiring freeze.

However, Matt Pfeffer, CFO of MannKind - Afrezza developer and Sanofi’s partner - told us Sanofi remains solid in its marketing approach.

“We have seen no indication that they are faltering in their commitment to the product - quite the contrary, in fact.”

“The only changes [in sales force numbers] I am aware of have been increases,”​ he told us. “There are certainly people out there with a vested interest in our not succeeding. This would not be the first time misinformation has been circulated about us or about Afrezza.”

Get-out clause?

MannKind inked a $150m commercialisation and marketing deal in August 2014​, and according to a report filed with the SEC at the time, Sanofi is able to opt out of the deal from next year.

“Sanofi may terminate the Sanofi License Agreement at any time on or after January 1, 2016 upon 90 days’ written notice if Sanofi determines in good faith that the commercialization of Afrezza is no longer economically viable in the United States,”​ the filing states.

Sanofi reports its third quarter 2015 results on October 29.

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