What Does Sanofi-Aventis Manufacture?

Sanofi-Aventis develops, manufactures, and distributes healthcare products and pharmaceuticals for diabetes solutions, human vaccines, rare diseases, emerging markets, and consumer healthcare, including the prescription sleep aid Ambien.

A French healthcare company, Sanofi employs more than 15,000 people all around America, and its U.S. operations are based in Bridgewater, New Jersey. Read on to learn more about the global pharmaceutical company.

Commonly Used Sanofi Products

While Sanofi may be best known as the manufacturer of Ambien, the company makes many other commonly used medicines and over-the-counter products.

Most of Sanofi’s products are made by its affiliate American corporations, including:

  • Chattem for consumer healthcare.
  • Sanofi Genzyme, which focuses on rare diseases.
  • Sanofi Pasteur, which handles vaccines.

Chattem is responsible for products like ACT plaque guard, fluoride rinse, and mouthwash; Gold Bond powders, lotions, moisturizers, and skincare products; Icy Hot for topical and over-the-counter (OTC) pain relief; the OTC nasal allergy spray Nasacort; the OTC allergy medication Allegra (fexofenadine); and Rolaids for acid indigestion and heartburn.

Sanofi Genzyme manufactures 15-plus innovative products for rare diseases within the U.S., while Sanofi Pasteur develops and distributes vaccines for diphtheria, tetanus, influenza, rabies, polio, and yellow fever, among others.

Learn more about the pharmaceutical industry.

Roots of Sanofi-Aventis

With a worldwide presence, Sanofi has a come a long way through the years to become the healthcare giant it is today. Here’s a general timeline of the company’s history:

  • 1928: Rhone-Poulenc was formed, producing medicines, chemicals, and textiles.
  • 1949: Maalox (magnesium hydroxide and aluminum oxide) for digestive health is introduced, which became the leading consumer healthcare brand for Sanofi.
  • 1970: The French Synthelabo was formed after mergers between the Laboratories Dausse, which was founded in 1834, and the Laboratories Robert & Carriere, which was initially founded in 1899.
  • 1973: A French oil company, Elf Aquitaine, acquired Labez, a pharmaceutical group, to found Sanofi.
  • 1986: Sanofi wins the Prix Galien (a French award that promotes significant advances in the field of pharmaceuticals and/or innovations in science) for the anti-coagulant drug heparin.
  • 1987: Sanofi again wins the prestigious Prix Galien again for its anti-platelet agent Ticlid (ticlopidine).
  • 1992: The sedative-hypnotic non-benzodiazepine sleep aid Ambien (zolpidem) is introduced in the United States.
  • 1990-1997: Rhone-Poulenc acquired U.S. company Rorer, the British company Fisons, and the Canadian vaccine laboratory Pasteur Merieux Connaught, which can trace its roots directly back to the father of modern microbiology, public health, and immunology, Louis Pasteur (1822-1895), as published by Conntact.
  • 1997: In collaboration with Bristol Myers Squibb, Sanofi co-develops and markets the cardiovascular disease products Plavix (clopidogrel), Aprovel (irbesartan), and Avapro (irbesartan).
  • 1997: The allergy drug Allegra (fexofenadine) is introduced, and in 2011, the drug becomes available without a prescription in the United States.
  • 1999: Rhone-Poulenc and Hoechst Marion Russell merge to form Aventis, which now has global reach and became one of the first companies to invest in new technologies for immunology, genomics, and gene therapy.
  • 1999: Sanofi and Synthelabo merge to form Sanofi-Synthelabo.
  • 2004: The colorectal cancer treatment Eloxatin (oxaliplatin), which was created by Debiopharm Group who signed an agreement with Sanofi-Synthelabo in 1994, wins the Prix Galien and becomes the third most lucrative product for Sanofi-Synthelabo, which markets the drug in the United States.
  • 2004: Sanofi-Synthelabo acquires Aventis to form Sanofi-Aventis.
  • 2011: Sanofi-Aventis shareholders agree to a name change to Sanofi.

Several whistleblower-type lawsuits concerning anti-trust behaviors have been filed against Sanofi over the years. Most were dismissed and deemed unfounded. However, Sanofi was found by the U.S. Senate Finance Committee to have used tactics to delay generic formations of the anti-coagulant drug Lovenox (enoxaparin) from entering the market as competition, paying off medical groups and researchers, according to the journal Pharmaceutical Manufacturing.

What Is Ambien?

Ambien is a prescription sleep aid and one of Sanofi pharma’s most widely used medications. Hailed as a safer and potentially more effective sleep aid than previously marketed benzodiazepine drugs like Xanax (alprazolam) and Valium (diazepam), Sanofi introduced Ambien to the American marketplace in 1992.

Insomnia medications are big business, as about 1 out of every 3 people is believed to suffer from at least a mild version of the sleep disorder, the Sleep Health Foundation reports. Ambien was marketed aggressively and extensively, quickly becoming a household name.

Ambien (zolpidem), also known as a “z-drug,” has a different chemical structure and method of action than a traditional benzodiazepine. The drug starts working pretty quickly, and its sedative-hypnotic effects generally last for a shorter period of time than most benzodiazepines.

Ambien CR (controlled release) slowly doles out zolpidem over a longer period in a controlled fashion to induce a full night of sleep.

Initial reports claimed that z-drugs had less abuse and addiction potential than benzodiazepines. However, they are classified as Schedule IV controlled drugs by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Risks of Ambien Use

In 2020, data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSUDH) estimates that around 6.2 Americans were currently misusing tranquilizer or sedative drugs. Additionally, information published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology (BJCP) states that zolpidem may have a greater potential for misuse and addiction than previously believed.

When Ambien is taken for an extended period of time, a person can become dependent on the drug and suffer from difficult physical and emotional withdrawal symptoms when the medication wears off.

In 2007, the FDA requested that Ambien (and all other sedative-hypnotic sleep aids) change their labeling to add warnings about certain risks of use. Several reports cite instances of walking, driving, eating, talking on the phone, or even having sexual relations while still asleep and under the influence of a sleep medication.

In 2013, the FDA issued more warnings about Ambien, Ambien CR, and other insomnia drugs containing zolpidem, this time warning that they can cause impairment even the day after taking them, making activities like driving potentially hazardous. The FDA then required that dosages for Ambien and other z-drugs be lowered to counteract these negative next-day impairments.

Today, Ambien continues to be a blockbuster drug for Sanofi. However, medical professionals are trained to prescribe it with caution and for short-term use only.

Get Help for Ambien or Drug Addiction

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