Sanofi-Aventis net profits up 26 percent in 2005

24th February 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Feb 24, 2006 (AFP) - French pharmaceutical group Sanofi-Aventis reported on Friday a 26-percent surge in net profit last year but said that growth of earnings per share would slow down this year, commenting that the outlook for the world medicines market was uncertain.

PARIS, Feb 24, 2006 (AFP) - French pharmaceutical group Sanofi-Aventis reported on Friday a 26-percent surge in net profit last year but said that growth of earnings per share would slow down this year, commenting that the outlook for the world medicines market was uncertain.

The group said that net profit on a comparable asset base rose to EUR 6.335 billion in 2005 from EUR 5.025 billion in 2004.

Net earnings per share rose by 25.7 percent to EUR 4.74, but the company, which is the third-biggest pharmaceutical company in the world, said that growth of earnings per share would slow to 10 percent this year.

The group also declined to provide a forecast for sales, a notable departure from policy in previous years.

"We cannot give a forecast because it is difficult to say how the world pharmaceutical market is going to evolve," finance director Jean-Claude Leroy said at a press conference.

In mid-day trading, the price of shares in the company showed a gain of 0.21 percent at EUR 72.25 in a broadly higher market.

The group said that in the fourth quarter it had invested heavily to prepare the launch of blood clotting treatment Plavix in Japan and predicted that it would begin marketing hotly awaited anti-obesity drug Rimonabant, also known as Accomplia, this year.

The company suffered a setback last week when the US Food and Drug Administration, which regulates the drug industry in the United States, declined to approve Accomplia for use as an obesity treatment and wrote to the company demanding additional information.

The FDA also refused to approve the drug for its secondary use as an anti-smoking treatment.

"We still think that the product for its anti-obesity use will be launched before the end of the year and most likely in the second half," said a senior member of the company's laboratory, Gerard Le Fur, at a press conference.

The company also said that it had faced competition from generic drugs cheaper copies of Sanofi's branded drugs.

"We lost about two billion in sales, for the full year (because of competition from generics)," said chief executive Jean-François Dehecq.

The drugs most affected include allergy treatment Allegra, diabetes treatment Amaryl, rheumatoid arthritis treatment Arava, and DDAVP, a drug used to control urine production in patients.

The company also announced that it intended to double in the next few years its capacity to produce vaccine for ordinary influenza in humans.

The company's vice president responsible for marketing, Wayne Pisano, said that the group would double its capacity in the United States with a new factory to increase production there from 50 million to 100 million doses per year and to open a new facility in France.

A subsidiary of the group, Sanofi-Pasteur which is the leading manufacturer in the world of influenza vaccine, produces 165 million doses per year but estimated world demand at 300 million doses, he said.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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