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It was less than 12 months ago that Paul Hudson took the reins at the French drug giant Sanofi, promising to refocus the company on more innovative, and lucrative, new medicines. On Monday, he spoke with STAT to about the decision to purchase Principia Biopharma for $3.7 billion — as well as Sanofi’s overall strategy and its Covid-19 vaccine candidates.

The biggest near-term opportunity for Sanofi is in Dupixent, the drug for autoimmune disorders that Sanofi sells with Regeneron, the Tarrytown, N.Y., biotech firm. Sanofi has said sales could reach $10 billion annually.


But it is clear that the nature of that deal was shaping Hudson’s opinions as he looked at new biotech partners. He favors purchasing “bolt-on” acquisitions in the range of $2 billion to $5 billion, he said. “I would rather not be paying royalties over the long-term,” he said. To fund such deals, including the purchase of Synthorx, a cancer drug maker, last December, Hudson recently sold Sanofi’s stake in Regeneron, worth more than $11 billion.

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