Sanofi shares dive on news of Canadian lawsuit

14th March 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, March 11 (AFP) - Shares in the pharmaceutical group Sanofi-Aventis fell sharply Monday after the group said late last week that it would sue Novopharm of Canada, which won approval to market a generic version of Sanofi's Lovenox thrombosis drug there.

PARIS, March 11 (AFP) - Shares in the pharmaceutical group Sanofi-Aventis fell sharply Monday after the group said late last week that it would sue Novopharm of Canada, which won approval to market a generic version of Sanofi's Lovenox thrombosis drug there.

Investors fear that the Canadian ruling, although negligible in terms of its impact on Lovenox sales in the country, could weaken Sanofi's efforts to protect Lovenox in the United States, where the company is defending the drug against generic threats from Amphastar and Teva, dealers said.

In mid-morning trading on the Paris stock exchange, Sanofi-Aventis was down1.69 percent at EUR 61.15, while the CAC-40 index of leading shares was essentially unchanged overall.

Analysts at CIC Securities in Paris said that while the Lovenox patent in theory runs until 2011, "this Canadian ruling casts a shadow over the development of the US trial," that begins on September 7.

The brokerage added that since Novopharm's generic version of Lovenox is produced from different sources than Sanofi's own drug, courts may rule that the generic versions are not simple copies.

Lovenox was Sanofi's largest selling drug last year, with sales of EUR 1.9 billion (USD 2.6 billion). CIC estimated that if generic versions were available in the United States from mid-2006, the group's earnings per share would be cut by EUR 1.8.

Dealers noted that the news on Lovenox rekindled investor fears of the generic threat facing Plavix, Sanofi's second largest-selling drug with sales of EUR 1.7 billion last year.

The company has filed a US lawsuit against Dr Reddy and Apotex, claiming their applications to market generic Plavix versions infringe on their patent, which also runs until 2011. This trial opens on April 8.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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