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Sanofi-Aventis posts increase in sales, announces new biotech partnership

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PARIS Sanofi-Aventis stated that its fourth-quarter profit rose 6.2 percent on a resurgence of sales from the Plavix blood-thinner and savings from job cuts, according to the Bloomberg news service.

Net income was 1.46 billion euros ($2.12 billion), or 1.09 euros per share, compared with 1.38 billion euros, or 1.02 euros, a year earlier, France's largest pharmaceuticals company reported. Eight analysts surveyed by Bloomberg predicted profit of 1.41 billion euros for the fourth quarter.

Sanofi has benefited from a recovery in sales of Plavix (clopidogrel bisulfate), the company’s second-best seller, after a U.S. judge ruled that Canadian generic firm Apotex couldn’t continue to market its generic version.

Sanofi is battling generic competition to medicines that generate more than one-third of pharmaceutical sales. The Paris-based drugmaker is trying to get new products on the market before Plavix and the anti-clot treatment Lovenox lose patent protection, starting in 2011.

U.S. Plavix sales, which are booked by partner Bristol-Myers Squibb, rose to $1.18 billion in the quarter compared with $348 million a year earlier. Sales of Plavix attributable to Sanofi rose 13 percent to 609 million euros.

In related news, Sanofi Tuesday agreed to pay Dyax Corp. as much as $500 million for rights to develop an experimental drug using the U.S. company’s research technology. Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Dyax will get $25 million in fees from Sanofi this year, plus royalties on medicines that reach the market from the partnership.

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