Sanofi begins production of dengue vaccine

Sanofi SA, a French pharmaceutical company, recently began producing an experimental dengue vaccine ahead of authorization from regulators in an attempt to stay ahead of competitors.

Sanofi Pasteur, the company's vaccine unit, started working on the project 20 years ago. While other drug companies are also working on vaccines for dengue, Sanofi's product is several years ahead. The decision was made in 2009 to get the product to market quickly, Reuters reports.

"Production time is rather long, it takes two years to produce this vaccine," Anthony Quin, the head of Sanofi Pasteur's manufacturing site in Neuville-sur-Saone, France, said, according to Reuters. "It was decided in 2009 to gain time to be ready to launch it in the market as soon as possible."

The group invested $391 million in its eastern France facility. Sanofi said it could supply 100 million doses of the dengue vaccine annually. If Sanofi's dengue vaccine is successful, the product could result in sales of more than $1 billion.

The company plans to launch the vaccine commercially in 2015 after receiving data from two late-stage trials in Asia and Latin America. Results are due in late 2013 and 2014, Reuters reports.

Dengue is transmitted by the bite of female mosquitoes and represents the world's fastest-spreading tropical disease. According to the World Health Organization, dengue infects approximately 50 million people throughout the world.