* Dermik has about 140 staff in U.S., 200 in Laval, Canada
* Dermik sale for $425 mln in cash
* Lemtrada MS drug late-stage trial data "positive"
* Sanofi shares fall 0.3 pct
(Combines Sanofi statements, adds share price)
PARIS, July 11 French drugmaker Sanofi (SASY.PA)
plans to sell its Dermik skincare business to Canada's Valeant
Pharmaceuticals (VRX.TO) for $425 million in cash, the latest
drug giant to move to shed non-core assets.
The group said separately that late-stage tests on its
Lemtrada experimental multiple sclerosis drug, which it
inherited through the purchase of U.S. biotech Genzyme, were
positive in reducing the relapse rate for the condition.
Sanofi had said previously that it planned to divest its
dermatology business in the United States and Canada, whose
brands include acne treatment BenzaClin and anti-face-wrinkle
"Our strategy is based upon our growth platforms and
innovation," Sanofi Chief Executive Christopher Viehbacher said
in a statement. "This divestiture allows us to rationalize our
portfolio and improve focus on our core businesses.
"Our manufacturing operations in Laval (Canada) and our
field operations teams will benefit from Valeant's stronger
presence in dermatology."
The sale relects wider moves by major pharma groups to ditch
Pfizer (PFE.N) said last week it might sell or spin off its
animal health and nutrition units -- businesses valued at more
than $16 billion -- to focus on its main pharmaceutical
business, while GlaxoSmithKline (GSK.L) is currently looking to
sell a portfolio of over-the-counter products in an auction.
MS treatment Lemtrada is a key drug candidate at Sanofi's
Genzyme unit, with the fortunes of the drug closely watched by
holders of Genzme Contingent Value Rights GCVRZ.O issued to
shareholders as part of the takeover deal.
"In this two-year comparative study, the effect of
alemtuzumab (Lemtrada) on reducing relapses versus Rebif, a
leading drug for the treatment of multiple sclerosis, is
impressive," Viehbacher said in a separate statement.
Sanofi added that the Phase 3 trial was unable to provide
evidence of a significant impact on disability in MS sufferers
as "very few patients accumulated disability at the rate
expected from previous clinical trials".
The results of another Phase 3 study to compare Lemtrada
with Rebif in MS patients who have relapsed while on therapy are
expected to be available in the fourth quarter, Sanofi added.
The company expects to file for U.S. and European Union
approval of alemtuzumab in multiple sclerosis in early 2012 and
has been granted fast track designation by the U.S. Food and
Sanofi shares were 0.3 percent lower at 55.35 euros by 0720
GMT. They are up 16 percent this year.
(Additional reporting by Ben Hirschler)
(Reporting by James Regan; Editing by Hans-Juergen Peters)