Investor sentiment surrounding French pharma giant Sanofi S.A. (NYSE: SNY) continues to sour after a string of disappointing news in recent months has brought its shares down below the key $39 handle for the ninth time this year. Major five-year support rests at $37 from way back in 2012, less than 4% away from where the stock is now. At this point, bad news is coming in consistently to the point that any significant piece of good news could catapult the stock higher, making Sanofi an interesting choice for dip-buyers.
The latest setback the company has had stems from a missed opportunity triggered back in 2015 that only now has come back to haunt it. Last year, Sanofi’s Auvi-Q, its own version of the popular EpiPen adrenaline shot by Mylan N.V. (NASDAQ: MYL), suffered a recall that ultimately led to the product being pulled from shelves and taken off the market completely early in 2016. Now it’s Mylan in the hot seat after being rebuked by Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton for raising the price of its EpiPen.
Clinton, back in 2015, had rebuked the now infamous biotech executive Martin Shkreli for his own price rises while CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals. This had catalyzed a broad decline for biotech stocks across the spectrum, and the same appears to be happening now.
In any case, Sanofi’s shelving of Auvi-Q was not earth-shattering, but the development is now coming back to bite them as Sanofi could have capitalized big with Auvi-Q on the political backlash that Mylan is now getting for raising the price of the EpiPen. Then again, had Auvi-Q remained on the market, the EpiPen price rise may never have happened in the first place.
Beyond losing the patent on its best-selling insulin glargine product Lantus, something that has been anticipated for years, Sanofi was further hammered earlier this week by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s delaying of priority review for its combination iGlarLixi drug, for which Sanofi spent $245 million on a priority voucher to get to market ahead of competitor Novo Nordisk A/S (NYSE: NVO). It now appears that that money has been wasted and Novo will beat Sanofi to the punch.
Pile on to that Sanofi’s colossal failure with Afrezza, an inhalable insulin product developed by Mannkind Corporation (NASDAQ: MNKD) but which drew little to no market demand. The licensing deal for that product was ended in January and the rights returned to Mannkind.
There may yet be one more blow to Sanofi from the direction of Novo Nordisk. On August 5, Novo announced that a small Phase 2a trial on 50 patients showed that its oral insulin formulation lowered fasting glucose levels similarly to Sanofi’s insulin glargine. If this can be replicated in a Phase 3 trial, there may be even more trouble for Sanofi’s Lantus than there already is.
Novo is not the only diabetes-focused company succeeding with an oral insulin formulation however. Oramed Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: ORMP) also recently announced expanded Phase 2B data on 188 patients showing its own oral insulin formulation lowering blood sugar levels versus placebo. If either or both of these oral insulin formulations get to market, the prospects for Sanofi could dim even further.
Taken all together, with sentiment and news surrounding Sanofi being so negative in 2016 so far, it could be considered an accomplishment for the stock to have held at current support levels. Any positive development from any direction could send shares on a brief but strong bounce higher off support.