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Dupixent drives Sanofi again, but other new drugs are lagging

Reported loss due to restructuring

Sanofi

Sanofi has raised its forecasts for the year after a “solid” second quarter marked by another sales acceleration for immunology drug Dupixent, although it posted a loss due to restructuring costs.

Group sales rose 5.5% to €8.63bn ($9.59bn) – with pharma up 3.4% to €6.46b – as Dupixent (dupilumab), its Sanofi Pasteur vaccines division and specialty medicine unit Genzyme all contributed double-digit revenue growth.

Sanofi joins a number of its peers in raising forecasts after a much stronger first half of 2019, which followed a long run of financial pressure caused by patent losses. It now expects earnings growth of 5% for the full year, at the top end of its earlier 3-5% estimate.

A lot of the recovery is due to Regeneron-partnered Dupixent, which contributed €496m in the quarter – a rise of 181%. Continued growth in atopic dermatitis, helped by approval in younger patients, has been coupled with “rapid uptake” in its new asthma indication, according to Sanofi.

Vaccine sales rose by a quarter to just over €1bn, albeit from a low base, with growth underpinned by a renaissance for childhood shot Pentaxim in China after a tricky 2018 punctuated by quality failures that led to a block on imports.

Genzyme posted a 22% increase in revenues to €2,29bn, and while a lot of that was down to Dupixent there was also a 9% increase for its rare disease drugs.

There was bad news for Genzyme’s blood disorders unit, however. Long-acting haemophilia A drug Eloctate – acquired as part of Sanofi’s $11.9bn acquisition of Bioverativ last year – succumbed to competitive pressure from Roche’s fast-growing Hemlibra (emicizumab) and fell 11% to €171m in the second quarter, with US sales down more than 16%.

Sanofi took a hefty €1.8bn charge on its books in the second quarter as Eloctate failed to meet its earlier predictions for sales growth.

High cholesterol therapy Praluent (alirocumab) has struggled to gain any momentum since its launch and this quarter was no exception, with sales of just €66m. In the US, sales decreased 37% to €24m because of “significantly higher rebates,” said Sanofi.

There was a glimmer of acceleration for rheumatoid arthritis therapy Kevzara (sarilumab) which climbed 150% to €52m after several quarters of lacklustre performance. And on the plus side, Sanofi’s oncology unit had a good quarter, up 14% to €431m and headed by Jevtana (cabazitaxel) for prostate cancer which contributed €126m, up 18%.

It is too soon to gauge the take-up of Sanofi’s new cancer immunotherapy Libtayo (cemiplimab), which has just been approved for cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (CSCC) in Europe after a US green light last September. Regeneron books sales of the drug in the US.

Shares in Sanofi rose just over 2% of the strength of the raised forecast and encouraging developments in its near-term pipeline, with regulatory verdicts expected in the coming months for new myeloma therapy isatuximab and meningococcal vaccine MenQuadfi.

Article by
Phil Taylor

29th July 2019

From: Sales

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