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Vaccines help sanofi-aventis Q1 growth

Strong sales of A/H1N1 influenza vaccines helped sanofi-aventis achieve a net sales growth of 3.9 per cent for Q1 2010

Strong sales of A/H1N1 influenza vaccines helped sanofi-aventis (S-A) achieve a net sales growth of 3.9 per cent - or 5.8 per cent at constant exchange rates (CER) - for the first quarter of 2010.

Influenza vaccine net sales for the period came to €450m – an increase of 639.7 per cent at CER from the same period last year – helping total net sales for the company top €7.4bn.

Total vaccine growth for the French pharmaceutical company was only 56 per cent however, with most other vaccines seeing a decrease in sales. This included revenue for seasonal vaccines, which fell 41.3 per cent. S-A said this result reflected "a shift in southern hemisphere sales from the first quarter to early second quarter following the completion of the A/H1N1 production".

With this growth in sales, S-A saw business net income grow from €2.2bn to €2.4bn, an increase of 9.7 per cent on a reported basis. Further expenses however, including €167m in restructuring costs, saw net income attributable to equity holders of the company come to €1.7bn. This was an increase of 8.6 per cent from Q1 2009. Business earnings per share were up 9.4 per cent to €1.86.

Outside of vaccines, other areas in the company to see growth included the diabetes division, which saw an increase in net sales of 11 per cent at CER to €971m. This was driven by double digit growth for diabetes treatments Lantus (+10.4 per cent), Apidra (+29.0 per cent) and Amaryl (+13.0 per cent),

As with other pharma companies to post Q1 results so far, growth in emerging markets also had a strong effect on overall revenue. S-A saw sales increase by 92.5 per cent in Latin America, 21.3 per cent in Asia (excluding the Pacific region) and 34.7 per cent in the Middle East. Sales in the US were down by 8.8 per cent however, with S-A putting this down to competition from Eloxatin generics, a decline in non A/H1N1 influenza vaccine sales and the first effects of healthcare reform.

Christopher A Viehbacher, CEO of S-A, said: "During this first quarter, our growth platforms delivered double-digit growth enhanced by recent targeted acquisitions and A/H1N1 vaccine sales. This good start to the year which benefited from A/H1N1 puts us on track to deliver our 2010 guidance."

Barring unforeseen adverse events, S-A has said it expects to see growth in business earnings per share at constant exchange rates for 2010 to be between 2 per cent and 5 per cent in 2010. This includes the further expected impact of US healthcare reform, though does not take into account potential generic competition for Lovenox, the current leading low molecular weight heparin on the market.

29th April 2010

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