Sanofi is licensing two preclinical respiratory compounds to China’s Zai Lab.

The drugs show promise as potential treatments for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed but Sanofi will be eligible to receive development and regulatory milestones, plus tiered royalties.

In China, according to the World Health Organisation, chronic respiratory diseases are the second leading cause of death. It is estimated that over 50% of Chinese men smoke and the worsening pollution levels is also a major contributor.

Samantha Du, Zai Lab’s chief executive, said diseases such as COPD and asthma are becoming a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in China “with no effective treatments”. The Shanghai-based company has launched over half a dozen drugs globally and successfully taken five candidates into clinical trials in China.

Malaria treatment shipped to Africa

Meantime, Sanofi and the Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH) have delivered the first large-scale batches of an antimalarial manufactured with semi-synthetic artemisinin, to six malaria-endemic countries in Africa.

More than 1.7 million treatments of Sanofi's ASAQ, a fixed-dose artemisinin-based combination therapy, are being shipped to Burkina Faso, Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia, Niger and Nigeria.

Artemisinin is the most effective malaria treatment available but the existing botanical supply - which is derived from the sweet wormwood plant - is inconsistent. Sanofi says it is committed to producing semisynthetic artemisinin using a no-profit, no-loss pricing model, and supplying it to WHO-prequalified manufacturers.

Generic Eloxatin

Finally, Sanofi has launched an authorised generic of its former oncology blockbuster Eloxatin (oxaliplatin) in the USA.

Eloxatin is used in combination with infusional 5-fluorouracil/leucovorin for treatment of advanced colorectal cancer or as adjuvant treatment of stage III colon cancer in patients who have undergone complete resection of the primary tumour. Second-quarter sales of the branded version crashed 83.7% to 60 million euros.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, of cancers that affect both men and women, colorectal cancer is the second leading killer in the USA.