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Sanofi-Aventis 1st Quarter Profit Up 8.6 Percent

From Associated Press (April 29, 2010)

PARIS -- Sanofi-Aventis reported Thursday an 8.6 percent increase in first quarter net profit thanks to its swine flu vaccine and strong sales of diabetes treatment Lantus.

France’s largest drug maker said net profit in the three-month period rose to (EURO)1.71 billion ($2.26 billion) from (EURO)1.58 billion a year earlier. Revenue rose 3.9 percent to (EURO)7.39 billion.

Sanofi-Aventis’ biggest selling product Lantus showed a 5.8 percent increase in sales to (EURO)790 million, offsetting the impact of generic competition on its Eloxatin cancer treatment and Plavix blood thinner.

Eloxatin sales fell 80.8 percent to (EURO)66 million and Plavix sales dropped 21.9 percent to (EURO)535 million.

The H1N1 vaccine added (EURO)413 million to quarterly revenue.

Chief Executive Christopher Viehbacher, who took the reins at Sanofi-Aventis early last year, called the results a "good start to the year."

The company’s preferred measure of earnings, so-called business net profit -- which excludes writedowns and acquisition costs -- rose 10 percent to (EURO)2.42 billion in the quarter.

Shares were down 0.6 percent at (EURO)51.56 in Paris morning trade.

Since taking the helm, Viehbacher has led a program to help the company take on generic competition and replace aging blockbuster drugs with new treatments.

The company spent (EURO)6.6 billion last year in 33 new partnerships and acquisitions, including Chattanooga, Tennessee-based consumer healthcare products maker Chattem Inc. and Brisbane, California-based biopharmaceutical company BiPar Sciences.

Sanofi-Aventis is also narrowing its research focus to fewer disease areas, something top competitors including Pfizer Inc. and Merck & Co. have already done.

By 2013, Sanofi-Aventis aims to be less dependent on the classical patent-protected blockbusters such as Plavix and Lovenox, as the company leans more heavily on five markets where it sees the most growth: vaccines, diabetes products, emerging markets, over the counter medicines, Japan, and new treatments.

The company said it is keeping unchanged its full-year guidance of growth in earnings per share excluding writedowns and acquisition costs of between 2 and 5 percent at constant exchange rates and excluding possible generic competition to its blood thinner drug Lovenox.

Viehbacher said the cost of U.S. health care reforms was (EURO)210 million in the quarter. That, combined with generic competition to Eloxatin helped push U.S. sales down by 8.8 percent.


Posted: April 2010