Sanofi Considers U.S. Biotech Targets Including Principia

(Bloomberg) — Sanofi is studying potential acquisitions of U.S. biotechnology companies including Principia Biopharma Inc. as it seeks innovative treatments for clinical areas including multiple sclerosis and immune disorders, people with knowledge of the matter said.

The French drugmaker is working with advisers to study potential deals, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private.

Chief Executive Officer Paul Hudson, who joined last year, is seeking to rejuvenate Sanofi by focusing on fast-growing areas where new medicines command high prices. There’s no certainty the deliberations will lead to a transaction, according to the people.

Sanofi shares were little changed early Friday in Paris.

Sanofi already has a partnership with Principia Biopharma to develop a treatment for central nervous system diseases. Principia Biopharma rallied in February after the experimental medicine succeeded in a mid-stage study and Sanofi’s CEO said it could grab half of the $20 billion market for multiple sclerosis drugs.

Shares of Principia Biopharma climbed as much as 13.3%. They traded up 12% to $83 apiece at 2:10 p.m. in New York, giving the company a market value of about $2.7 billion. Representatives for Sanofi and Principia Biopharma declined to comment.

Sanofi could spend as much as $50 billion on acquisitions after announcing the disposal of its stake in Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc., Bloomberg Intelligence said in May. Besides cancer and gene therapy technologies, targets for deals may include immunology assets, analysts at Bank of America Corp. wrote at the time.

Principia Biopharma is developing a therapy called rilzabrutinib for the treatment of immune-system conditions, according to its website. The drug is part of a class of medications known as BTK inhibitors, which are more commonly used to fight certain cancers. The company is evaluating the medicine’s use in patients with pemphigus, a group of rare diseases that cause blistering of the skin and mucous membranes.

(Updates with shares in fourth paragraph)

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