Sanofi-Aventis profits soar on diabetes drug sale

5th May 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, May 5, 2006 (AFP) - Pharmaceutical group Sanofi-Aventis reported on Friday that first-quarter net profit had surged by 53.6 percent with a big injection from the sale of the patent for diabetes treatment Exubera to US group Pfizer.

PARIS, May 5, 2006 (AFP) - Pharmaceutical group Sanofi-Aventis reported on Friday that first-quarter net profit had surged by 53.6 percent with a big injection from the sale of the patent for diabetes treatment Exubera to US group Pfizer.

Net profit amounted to EUR 2.173 billion, far above the figure forecast by analysts and despite competition from generic medicines in the United States.

Sanofi-Aventis, the third-biggest pharmaceutical group in the world, said that the sale of the Exubera patent had generated a post-tax capital gain of 384 million euros.

Excluding this exceptional contribution, net profit rose by 20.4 percent.

Sanofi's share dropped 0.65 percent in midday trade on profit-taking after the company's forecast-busting numbers.

But Sanofi-Aventis was cautious about the outlook for 2006, holding to its forecast at the beginning of the year that net earnings per share would rise by about 10.0 percent.

"We are simply maintaining our forecast for 2006," said Sanofi financial director Jean-Claude Leroy, who declined to comment on the outlook for next year.

Exchange rate movements had contributed 5.4 percentage points to the sales rise, while restructuring had a negative effect of 0.7 points, the company said.

Sanofi suffered a setback in February 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.

But Sanofi said Friday it was sticking to its calendar for the roll-out of the drug in the United States in the second half of this year.

Hanspeter Spek, head of the company's pharmaceutical operations, said Friday that a "press campaign" had had a negative impact on Sanofi's sleeping pill Ambien.

Ambien, the top selling sleeping pill in the world, has sparked a class action lawsuit that says it causes sleepwalking and eating disorders.

Sanofi said in February 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 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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