Trends and issues

Redefining medicine through extraordinary science

We are a company of innovators and creative problem solvers. Powered by an expanding toolbox of industry-leading technologies, and pursuing a deeper understanding of patient priorities and disease pathways, our teams are working at the frontiers of science to discover and develop life-changing medicines and vaccines that create value for society and benefit patients everywhere.

Industry trends

Ground-breaking technologies

Developing and acquiring innovative technologies equips scientists to increase the probability of success and accelerate the pace of R&D. When applied to well-understood pathways that impact multiple diseases, these technologies can be used to develop therapeutics that can treat more people.

Data science and digital technologies

Incorporating patient experiences in drug discovery extends beyond patient advocacy and knowledge hubs to the use of wearables and “invisibles” that augment our ability to understand individual patient disease biology. Combining such measurable, real-world information with molecular and clinical data offers opportunities to better prevent, diagnose, and monitor diseases, and to discover new drug targets.

Artificial intelligence and big data

A major challenge in drug discovery is understanding disease mechanisms to ensure success in early clinical trials. Artificial intelligence algorithms can help scientists gain unique insights into disease biology by combining and identifying patterns in multi-dimensional datasets, for example single-cell genomics, genetics, and proteomics. This can clarify disease drivers, help clinicians match patients to treatments, and reveal opportunities for new treatment options, such as combination therapies.

R&D productivity

Simplifying regulatory processes can lead to gains in productivity, reducing clinical cycle times. Partnering across industry and using a cloud-based platform to facilitate data sharing with health authorities can ultimately bring new, safe, and effective medicines to patients faster. Sanofi and nine other pharmaceutical companies led an industry collaboration to form Accumulus Synergy, providing a strong framework to begin reducing regulatory review times.

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Genomics, synthetic biology, and advanced biologics are reshaping the landscape of medicine. Combined with bioinformatics and machine learning, this new toolbox is having a profound impact on the industry, pointing to potentially curative treatments for rare diseases, enabling finer control over immune responses, and allowing scientists to direct immune cells to target tumors with increasing precision.

Innovative clinical trial design

Gold-standard clinical trial designs represent the true diversity of a patient population and include clinical parameters that reflect real-world experiences. They incorporate knowledge gained in disease registries and other digital sources and are flexible enough to keep patients in the study even in the face of unexpected challenges.

Technology platforms

Rapid technological advances are giving our researchers the tools to target the root causes of disease and design precision therapeutics that would have been unimaginable just a few years ago.

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2020 R&D facts and figures1

  1. 15,000+
  2. 21
    R&D sites around the world
  3. 16
    Key technology platforms
  1. €5.5bn
    Invested in R&D, representing 15.3% of company sales
  2. 83
    Projects in clinical development, including 32 new molecular entities
  3. 40
    Projects in phase 3 or submitted to regulatory authorities for approval

Projects in clinical development in 20202

  1. 10
  2. 22
  3. 27
  1. 8
    Non-malignant hematology
  2. 9
    Rare diseases
  3. 7

1 All figures as of December 2020, unless otherwise indicated. Key technology platforms established internally or through partnerships.
2 Immuno-inflammation: 6 new molecular entities (NMEs), 16 additional indications; Oncology: 12 NMEs, 15 additional indications; Non-malignant hematology: 6 NMEs, 2 additional indications; Rare disease: 5 NMEs, 4 additional indications; Neurology: 3 NMEs, 4 additional indications. For more detail, see Fourth quarter and full year 2020 results.

Bioethics at Sanofi

Scientific and medical activities are guided by our ambition to meet the growing expectations of patients and society, and are constantly challenged by the evolution of science and medicine. We have put in place a governance system overseen by our Bioethics Committee to ensure a high level of ethics in scientific and medical activities, better stakeholder engagement and greater transparency.

Our Bioethics Committee, chaired by Chief Medical Officer Dietmar Berger, ensures that our scientific and medical activities are carried out in line with high ethical standards and a view to constant improvement by developing and applying specific policies. It can rely on the recommendations of the Advisory Bioethics Council, composed of independent international experts, whose mandate is to provide opinions on important bioethics topics enabling us to improve our practices.

Find all factsheets and policies on ethics and transparency on our Website in the Document center.

Ethics in practice

  • The Bioethics Committee defines an ethical framework for use of new technologies to develop innovative solutions. Most recently, it issued a policy on the opportunities and the limits for the use of genome editing and gene therapy technologies.
  • The use of animals is essential in the research and production process. Nevertheless, we are committed to reduce and replace animal testing and to ensure ethical use of animals with a dedicated Advisory Body on Animal Ethics.
  • Clinical trials are essential for bringing new health solutions to patients. The aim is to collect data on the benefit and risk of the products in healthy subjects and patients. To conduct clinical trials around the world, we apply international ethical standards and develop company positions on specific topics (e.g., compassionate use of Sanofi investigational products).
  • To improve both social equity and human health, we are continuing to increase the participation of diverse, often under-represented populations in clinical trials by identifying barriers to recruitment, enrollment and retention, and employing strategies that encourage participation (see our policy).

Post-trial access to investigational products

Some clinical trial participants may have benefit from the experimental product but not have access to the product after their participation in the trial. Under specific circumstances, Sanofi may provide continuous post-trial access to the experimental product. We base such decisions on strict ethical, medical and safety criteria.

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Focus on clinical data transparency

We communicate to healthcare professionals, patients and the public all useful information on our medical research work, our development projects and our products so that they can make informed medical decisions. We adhere to the principles of responsible clinical data sharing adopted by the members of PhRMA and EFPIA in July 2013. The Bioethics Committee adopted a policy on sharing and transparency of clinical data in 2017.