Battered Sanofi sets hopes on cancer and biotech
Paris - Sanofi-Aventis was reminded that steady income flows in the pharma buisness are a thing of the past. The French drugmaker saw its earnings fall by nearly 30 percent in the first quarter, as low swine flu vaccine sales hammered an important pillar of the business basis.
The bad news from the financial front was ameliorated slightly when Phase-III-study results from Zaltrap, used as a second line treatment for metastatic colorectal cancer, showed some promise. Zaltrap
(flibercept) is being developed with the US-based Regeneron Pharmaceuticals as a partner.
As the French company stated, the Phase III trial evaluating flibercept in combination with folinic acid chemotherapy met its primary endpoint of improving overall survival. The study was a multinational, randomized, double-blind trial comparing the chemotherapy in combination with either aflibercept or placebo in the treatment of patients with metastatic colorectal cancer after failure of an oxaliplatin-based regimen. The study enrolled 1,226 patients with mCRC who previously had been treated with an oxaliplatin-based regimen.
Until Zaltrap and other candidates eventually hit the market, Sanofi may experience other bumpy rides in earnings. Sanofi’s blood thinner Plavix, the second-best selling drug in the world, loses patent protection in 2012. Though the company is still fairly profitable, it made €1.2 billion net profit in the January-March quarter, a drop of 29 percent from €1.7 billion a year earlier, when swine flu vaccine sales gave a boost to earnings.
We must not overlook the global beacon for biotechnology, US-based biotech giant Genzyme, which Sanofi-Aventis recently bought for €13.5 billion earlier this month, where sales rose 7 percent to $1 billion in the first quarter.