Sanofi-Aventis is reportedly in talks with Medley with a view to taking over the Brazilian generics firm, according to articles in the country's Valor Economico newspaper.

Citing people familiar with the negotiations, but without naming them, Valor Economico claimed that talks between the companies are in an advanced stage. The newspaper said Medley has been hit hard by the credit crisis and is finding it difficult to obtain financing.

The price being mentioned is .500 million reals, or about $220 million, for a majority stake in the company. whose controlling shareholders are the Negrao family.

Unsurprisngly, Sanofi and indeed Medley are not commenting on rumours but an acquisition in Brazil would fit in with the new strategy for the French firm laid out by chief executive Chris Viehbacher last week in Paris. Mr Viehbacher said that the company was looking to expand its generics operations (it is hoping to complete a takeover of Czech generics drugmaker Zentiva before the end of the quarter) and consolidate its position as the number one healthcare group in emerging markets.

Brazil is an important market for Sanofi and sales in the country grew 1.4% last year to 601 million euros.

Back to more concrete news and Sanofi Pasteur, the Paris-based group's vaccines division, has announced that it is sponsoring a Phase II study of a jab against Clostridium difficile, which is among the most common causes of hospital-acquired infection in Europe and North America. The 600-patient trial is being conducted in the UK.