The specifics of Sanofi-Aventis’ R&D restructuring programmes are to be unveiled in the next month, according to the French drugmaker’s chief executive.

In an interview with Reuters, Chris Viehbacher said that the Paris-headquartered group is “clearly down the path to give a new dynamics to our R&D organisations". At the end of April, Sanofi terminated 14 out of 65 R&D projects, including four late-stage compounds, but its review is also looking at a different approach to research. Mr Viehbacher said that "we have a number of things to address in terms of how we get our people to work together, how we can provide more latitude for creativity, how we can develop them scientifically and how we can encourage external collaboration, because there is a world of science out there."

This interest in external deals echoes comments Mr Viehbacher made just after he took over the reins at Sanofi when he noted that “innovation is not dead, there are 6,000 biotechs out there”, as well as numerous government and academic schemes. He made no comment on possible job losses other than the 927 posts being cut in France which was announced in October last year. The company is scheduled to meet with French trades unions next week.

Mr Viehbacher told Reuters that "I think you will see a fair amount of communication over the course of July, and we will follow up with detail in the third to fourth quarter”. He added that Sanofi is ready to use its free cash of 4 billion euros ($5.5 billion) for acquisitions.

He would not completely exclude a mega-merger but comments made in the last few months and the deals done, such as the purchase of generic drugmakers – the Czech firm Zentiva, Brazil’s Medley and Laboratorios Kendrick of Mexico – suggest that bolt-on acquisitions are more likely. Mr Viehbacher said that “if we can find other acquisition opportunities like Zentiva elsewhere, we will do that."

He concluded by noting that “we are constantly looking, so yeah, we will probably do some more deals this year, I just can't tell you when, because I do not know when the fish is going to bite”.