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Strong Q1 for Sanofi ahead of challenging nine months

French pharma company expects sales to be hit hard by loss of patent exclusivity for Plavix and Avapro

Sanofi Chris Viehbacher

Sanofi posted a strong 12.5 per cent rise in net profits to €2.4bn for the first quarter of 2012, ahead of what will be a testing time for the pharma company as patent losses take their affect.

The French firm lost exclusivity for high blood pressure treatment Avapro (irbesartan) at the end of March, 2012, with its big-selling blood thinner Plavix (clopidogrel) set to follow in May, resulting in an expected drop in earnings per share for 2012 of 12 to 15 per cent.

The loss of patent protection for Plavix will hit Sanofi especially hard, considering the drug had worldwide sales of €1.76bn during the first quarter of 2012.

The Avapro franchise, sales of which have already sank 18.1 per cent, made €404m during the first three months of 2012. Both drugs are co-marketed by Bristol-Myers Squibb.

Positives for the company during the first quarter of 2012 included a continued life from its purchase last year of US biotech Genzyme, whose sales added €841m to the quarter's revenue figures.

Genzyme products that saw growth in sales included Cerezyme, which saw revenues increase 5.8 per cent to €149m, and Myozyme/Lumizyme, which made €112m – an increase of 17.0 per cent from 2011.

Fabry disease treatment Fabrazyme (agalsidase beta), which began to be shipped from Genzyme's new facility in Massachusetts in March 2012, managed a 50 per cent rise in sales to bring in €47m.

Other areas of growth for Sanofi included its diabetes division, where sales were up 14.4 per cent to €1.3bn, driven by a strong showing from Lantus. The insulin glargine made €1.1bn for the company, increasing its year-on-year performance by 17.2 per cent.

Emerging markets also proved to be an area of optimism for Sanofi, with sales up 9.9 per cent in all areas to €2.6bn.

By region, Latin America accounted for €788m in sales, Asia saw revenues of €665m, Eastern Europe and Turkey brought in €657m, while both Africa and the Middle East both had sales of over €200m.

Despite the challenging year ahead, Sanofi's CEO Christopher Viehbacher (pictured above) was positive the company would bounce back.

“We have submitted three new products to regulatory authorities, and released impressive clinical results for our anti-PCSK9 agent and for Lemtrada at recent medical congresses,” he said.

“Although as expected, Plavix will lose exclusivity in May in the US, the strong underlying performance of the business is consistent with our medium term growth outlook.”

30th April 2012

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