Sanofi selling dermatology business

Bloomberg News / April 14, 2011

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NEW YORK — Sanofi-Aventis SA, France’s biggest drug maker, is seeking a buyer for its US dermatology business in a sale that may fetch as much as $433 million, according to two people with knowledge of the matter.

First-round bids were submitted last week, said the people, who declined to be identified because the talks are private. Deutsche Bank AG is handling the sale for Sanofi, they said. Last week, Sanofi completed its acquisition of Genzyme Corp., a Cambridge, Mass.-based biotech that specializes in drugs for rare genetic diseases.

Sanofi is selling an operation that chief executive Chris Viehbacher said in 2009 was too small, in order to focus on treatments for diabetes, cancer, and atrial fibrillation, or irregular heartbeat. The company’s dermatology products include Sculptra Aesthetic, a wrinkle filler that’s used to fill in deep smile lines in healthy patients.

“Sanofi-Aventis US is exploring strategic alternatives for the US dermatology business in keeping with its strategy to reallocate resources to high-growth areas including diabetes, oncology, and atrial fibrillation,’’ Sanofi said in an e-mailed statement.

Private-equity firms are the most likely suitors for the dermatology operation, the people said. The valuation of the business has been hurt because competitors introduced generic versions of one of its products, the BenzaClin topical acne treatment, one person said.

Viehbacher said in 2009 the drug maker would review the dermatology business.