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Bonne Chance, Brandicourt

Sanofi’s CEO hunt has ended, and the roue de la fortune has pointed to Bayer’s Olivier Brandicourt. (I’m tempted to keep dropping French phrases every couple of lines, but I figure that no one will stand for it, so you can work them in mentally as appropriate). But before his two years at Bayer, Brandicourt had many years at Pfizer, so that might be a more appropriate pedigree to cite.
That history has some interesting chapters, such as overseeing the launch of Exubera, the inhaled insulin product whose effect was a bit more like the launch of an N-1. Exubera was, at least to an outsider, an absolutely hair-frizzing example of wrongheaded groupthink, a completely avoidable debacle from an organization poisoned by breathing its own fumes. This will make the recent Sanofi connection with Mannkind’s inhaled insulin product fun to watch. I think that Mannkind’s work in this area is the sort of thing that Don Quixote might have done if you’d given him a few billion dollars to work with, and that many of their investors need to adjust the dosages of their non-insulin medications. But we’ll see what Brandicourt makes of it all. He has a lot on his agenda at Sanofi, and people will be wondering if (1) he can do the job, (2) if anyone can do the job, and (3) whether Sanofi’s board of directors will let anyone do the job.

13 comments on “Bonne Chance, Brandicourt”

  1. petros says:

    But he is French so they may!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Ahh yes, I was at Pfizer when inhaled insulin was going to be the next big thing. IIRC, it had a negative impact on pulmonary function over time. Groupthink? Yes!! SGould have listened to Bill Clinton when he said he didn’t inhale.
    “the launch of an N-1.” Such interesting references! Sergei Korolev would be impressed. Too bad he passed away, maybe he could have fixed the N-1 problems. Instead they moved on to the next big Soviet groupthink mistake, the Energia and Buran.

  3. Dr. Manhattan says:

    Ahh yes, the inhaled insulin debacle. I was at Pfizer for that one, and it was going to sell billions of $, according to the development team. IIRC, a “slight” issue with declining pulmonary function from the inhaled powder over time.
    “a bit more like the launch of an N-1. ” Such interesting references! Sergei Korolev would be impressed. Too bad he passed away in 1966, he might have been able to straighten out the issues with the N-1. Instead, they moved onto to the next Soviet Groupthink, the Energia booster and Buran. Asif Siddiqi’s masterful two part history covers that era of the Soviet space program.

  4. herman says:

    Calgon, take me away!

  5. Bagnar says:

    Thanks Derek for this article ! 🙂
    For all the french readers, here is a short article about all the challenges he may have to face in the future.
    http://www.lemonde.fr/economie/article/2015/02/20/sanofi-les-chantiers-du-nouveau-directeur-general_4580218_3234.html
    PS: I appreciate all the french phrases, Derek 😉

  6. Nick K says:

    Bonne chance, M Brandicourt, vous en aurez besoin….

  7. DevicesRus says:

    I am pretty sure that Afrezza will do a lot better than Exubera (although that won’t be hard) primarily because the PK of the drug is so much better, fast enough to mimic first phase insulin response and very fast turn-off compared to any SQ insulin. I worked for Al for many years at Minimed and to compared to Al, the Don was a slacker when it comes to perseverance.

  8. DevicesRus says:

    I am pretty sure that Afrezza will do a lot better than Exubera (although that won’t be hard) primarily because the PK of the drug is so much better, fast enough to mimic first phase insulin response and very fast turn-off compared to any SQ insulin. I worked for Al for many years at Minimed and to compared to Al, the Don was a slacker when it comes to perseverance.

  9. Anonymous BMS Researcher says:

    I’d be happy to take the job of Big Oharma CEO if some company were foolish enough to offer it to me; I would fail miserably since I have zero experience in any management role. After flaming out, however, I would get a severance package much more generous than what the rank and file get when they are sacked. Also, it seems even failed CEOs get lots of highly-paid board and consulting gigs.

  10. Pete says:

    Dien Bien Phu re-visited?

  11. Philip says:

    As a former MannKind stock holder, I am going to repeat the investor’s mantra: Afrezza is not Exubera.
    As stated by DevicesRus above (7&8) Afrezza is much faster. It should be obvious that as a former stock holder, I do not think Afrezza will be a huge block buster, but I do not think it will suffer the fate of Exubera. TechnoSphere looks to be better at clearing the lungs, the inhaler is much more convenient and the above noted speed do make a difference.

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