Sanofi-Aventis has posted a fairly disappointing set of financials this morning which reveal a 3.6% decline in sales for the second quarter to 6.69 billion euros, hit by the weak dollar, and adjusted net income of 1.61 billion euros, down 4.4%.

Pharmaceutical revenues grew 4.1% to 6.03 billion euros, despite the decline in sales suffered by the Stilnox/Ambien (zolpidem) sleeping pill franchise as a pile of generic versions hit the market after US patent protection was lost. Ambien sales fell 22.4% to 191 million euros, while generic versions of the cancer drug Eloxatin (oxaliplatin), this time in Europe, led to a 5.0% revenue decline to 326 million euros.

On the positive side, Sanofi celebrated another increase in sales of its bloodthinner blockbuster Plavix (clopidogrel), up 8.5% to 664 million euros, while the antithrombotic Lovenox (enoxaparin) was up 4.6% to 637 million euros. There were strong showings for the cancer drug Taxotere (docetaxel), sales of which were up 14.1% to 503 million euros, while the diabetes drug Lantus (insulin glargine) shot up 27.2% to 576 million euros.

The moist impressive rises came from Sanofi’s human vaccines unit. Sales rose 17.1% to 657 million euros, driven by meningitis shot Menactra, which was up 1.9% to 92 million euros, and Adacel, an adult tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis booster leapt 33.2% to 59 million euros. Sales at Sanofi Pasteur MSD, the joint venture with Merck & Co in Europe rose 39.4% to 274 million euros, buoyed by the cervical cancer jab Gardasil, which had revenues of 149 million euros.

In its R&D update, Sanofi noted that it has made submissions to both European and US regulatory bodies for Multaq (dronedarone) for patients suffering from atrial fibrillation. It added that an ongoing portfolio rationalisation programme has led to the discontinuation of some projects “judged to have an inadequate risk/benefit profile”.

This has led to the termination of four products, including two antidepressants (amibegron and SSR14915, a V1B receptor antagonist), AVE7688 (ilepatril) for hypertension and SL65.0472, for peripheral arterial disease. Also the French drugmaker noted that results from the MAGENTA study confirmed the good long-term safety profile of saredutant in the treatment of major depressive disorders, but also showed that relapse was not significantly reduced versus placebo when patients who had responded to saredutant after three months had their treatment extended to a year.

The decision on submitting saredutant for regulatory approval will depend on the results of two ongoing trials assessing the product in combination with the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors escitalopram and paroxetine, Sanofi added. These are due to be completed in the first half of 2009.

The company concluded by raising its guidance for 2008, saying that earnings per share should be up around 8%, up from a previous forecast of 7% growth. This was seen by analysts as a positive move, though Tim Anderson of Sanford Bernstein described it as “a quarter of mixed quality” amid concerns about the pipeline.

Investors are non-plussed, however, and at 10.10am UK time, Sanofi shares had fallen 6.1% to 44.42 euros.