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Will Genzyme Help Sanofi?

Most people agree that biotech is the future, and that Big Pharma companies should take an interest if they want to continue to thrive. Sanofi-Aventis has already made inroads into biotech with a $20 billion takeover of Genzyme. And while the deal is a "bet on the future," Genzyme's short-term benefits for Sanofi may be more important, says Jonathan Rockoff on the Wall Street Journal's Health Blog. Genzyme's experience in making treatments for diseases affecting small populations will prove valuable as the concept of personalized medicine takes hold and treatments are tailored to small groups of people, Sanofi has said. But Sanofi is also have problems with expiring patents, Rockoff says, and Genzyme has "thrived" in a period when pricing problems and R&D "struggles" have hurt other companies. The types of drugs that Genzyme makes are also more successful at getting covered by insurers and approved by regulators, Rockoff says. FDA accelerates approval of drugs for rare diseases, and although the treatments are expensive, insurance companies don't object to covering them because only a few patients need them, he adds.