Sanofi says could buy device assets to boost diabetes

FRANKFURT, April 20 (Reuters) - Sanofi is looking at potential acquisitions of devices, such as blood glucose testing kits, to boost its diabetes business, a senior executive at the French drugmaker said on Thursday.

“Yes, there may be assets for sale that come out. We are looking at this but I cannot tell you positively that we are going to go for this,” Stefan Oelrich, head of diabetes, said at a media event in Frankfurt.

Johnson & Johnson said earlier this year it was reviewing strategic options, including the possible sale, for some of its diabetes care businesses.

Sanofi, which currently has its own very small blood glucose monitoring operation, is interested in building up drug-device combinations as it seeks to reinvigorate diabetes sales, which are struggling in the face of competition.

Oelrich reiterated that Sanofi’s diabetes revenue was expected to shrink by 4 to 8 percent a year on average over 2015-2018.

Sanofi’s best-selling diabetes product, the long-acting insulin Lantus, accounted for 17 percent of group sales last year. But Lantus is being squeezed by pressure on prices in the United States, where prescriptions of cheaper copies of the treatment are picking up rapidly. (Reporting by Ludwig Burger; Editing by Ben Hirschler)