Sanofi Pasteur Limited

Sanofi Pasteur Limited, formerly known as Connaught Laboratories Limited of Toronto, is the leading supplier of vaccines in Canada. The parent company is Sanofi Pasteur, one of the world's largest manufacturers of vaccines and a division of Sanofi-aventis, a diversified pharmaceutical company. Sanofi Pasteur manufactures and exports vaccines and allied products that protect against 20 of the 26 different diseases for which vaccines are available. In 2009, it was among the companies to receive orders for the production of the A H1N1 INFLUENZA (swine flu) vaccine.

Founded in 1914 by Dr. John G. FitzGerald as the Anti-Toxin Laboratories at the "University of Toronto." Sanofi Pasteur Limited was the first organization in Canada to begin producing antitoxins and vaccines against rabies, diphtheria, tetanus and smallpox. In 1917 the laboratories were renamed "Connaught Antitoxin Laboratories and University Farm" after Prince Albert, the Duke of Connaught, who had served as Governor General of Canada from 1911 to 1916.

In 1922 Connaught became one of the first to produce large-scale quantities of insulin, a breakthrough treatment for diabetes discovered earlier that year by Frederick G. BANTING and Charles H. BEST at the University of Toronto. Connaught continued to be Canada's major supplier of insulin into the 1980s.

During the Second World War, Connaught produced dried blood products to help treat injured soldiers. In 1953 the company began producing blood products including human albumin and serum globulin, in addition to a wide range of vaccines and drugs such as insulin and heparin, and continued to do so until 1987. It was also one of the early producers of the antibiotic penicillin.

In the 1950s Connaught played a key role in the development of the first effective vaccine against polio (also called infantile paralysis). The vaccine, known today as the Salk vaccine, was made possible by the pioneering work of Connaught scientists in establishing ways in which the virus could be grown in culture. Much of the vaccine used in the successful clinical trials of Salk's vaccine in Canada and the US was made in Toronto. Sanofi Pasteur Limited continues to be a major producer of both the Salk (killed virus) and Sabin (weakened or attenuated virus) polio vaccines. See also BIOLOGICAL PRODUCT.


In 1972 Connaught was sold by the University of Toronto to the CANADA DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, a crown corporation. In 1978 the company expanded its production capacity by purchasing the commercial arm of the Salk Institute in Pennsylvania. Connaught was acquired by Pasteur Mérieux Serums et Vaccins, a subsidiary of Rhône Poulenc of France, in 1989. In 1999, Rhône Poulenc merged with German pharmaceutical giant Hoechst and the Canadian operations, then known as Pasteur Mérieux Connaught, were renamed Aventis Pasteur Limited. In 2004, the parent company, Aventis, was acquired by Sanofi-Synthelabo and the company Sanofi-aventis was formed.


Over the years, the Connaught Campus of Sanofi Pasteur Limited, as it is sometimes referred to, has expanded its research activities, becoming a major contributor to the global company's research programs. Research projects have included the development of a genetically engineered HIV vaccine against AIDS, a potential new vaccine against the respiratory syncytial virus (one of the viruses that can cause croup), new combined vaccine formulations that protect against many diseases with one vaccination, an oral vaccine delivery system that could eliminate the need for injections, and the development of vaccines directed against pathogens known to cause several types of human cancer. The company has already developed the first BIOLOGICAL PRODUCT approved in North America and parts of Europe for the treatment of superficial bladder cancer.

The company's research and manufacturing operation in Toronto employs close to 1100 people, representing 10 percent of Sanofi Pasteur's global workforce.

Active in the community, Sanofi Pasteur is the creator and lead sponsor of the Sanofi-Aventis Bio Talent Challenge, a student competition intended to foster interest in the biotechnology field. The competition has grown to be a Canada-wide event since its creation in 1994.