Sanofi-Aventis has posted a 10.8% increase in adjusted net income to 1.88 billion euros, beating analysts’ expectations, while sales rose 1.8% to around 7.03 billion euros.

Theresults are impressive the decline in sales suffered by Stilnox/Ambien (zolpidem) sleeping pill franchise as a whole host of copycat versions hit the market after US patent protection was lost. Ambien sales sank 59.1% to 207 million euros, while generic versions of the cancer drug Eloxatin (oxaliplatin), this time in Europe, led to a 4.5% revenue decline to 383 million euros. Nevertheless, there were also a number of bright points.

Sanofi celebrated another increase in sales of its bloodthinner blockbuster Plavix (clopidogrel), up 12.9% to 614 million euros, and the effects of Canadian drugmaker Apotex’ move to flood the US market with its generic version in the summer of 2006 is over. The antithrombotic Lovenox (enoxaparin) leapt 12.6% to 633 million euros and there were also strong showings for Allegra (fexofenadine) for allergies, up 7.4% to 159 million euros, while cancer drug Taxotere (docetaxel) sales were up 9% to 474 million euros. Perhaps most impressive of all was the 49.2% sales increase enjoyed by the vaccines division to 943 million euros.

The diabetes drug Lantus (insulin glargine) shot up 30.8% to 518 million euros, but Amaryl (glimepiride), another diabetes treatment, was down 8.7% to 94 million euros. Also disappointing was the performance of the obesity drug Acomplia (rimonabant), which suffered some very bad publicity earlier in the year after a US Food and Drug Administration advisory panel voted unanimously against recommending it. Sales of the treatment, which is still sold in 20 countries, reached just 21 million euros.

Sanofi raised its growth outlook for 2007 earnings per share, excluding selected items, to 10% from around 9% previously, assuming an average euro/dollar exchange rate of $1.25 and investors were impressed. At 10.20 this morning, the firm’s shares had risen 1.2% to 59.69 euros.