Sanofi-Aventis has posted a solid set of figures for the second quarter this morning, but has lowered its full-year earnings forecast due to the introduction last week of generic Lovenox in the USA.

The French drugmaker noted that ‘business net income’, ie adjusted earnings excluding items, rose 7.8% to 2.48 billion euros, while sales were up 4.6% to 7.78 billion euros, boosted by favourable exchange rates.
Growth was driven by the French firm’s diabetes division which contributed 1.13 billion euros (+10.6%), and Lantus (insulin glargine) made up 926 million euros of that, also a rise of 10.6%.

Turnover of the antithrombotic Lovenox (enoxaparin) was up 5.5% to 866 million euros, but that figure will probably be hit hard in the coming quarters now that the US Food and Drug Administration has approved the first generic version of the drug from Novartis unit Sandoz and partner Momenta Pharmaceuticals.

As for Sanofi’s other treatments, the cancer drug Taxotere (docetaxel) slipped 2.7% to 598 million euros, while the bloodthinner Plavix (clopidogrel), partnered with Bristol-Myers Squibb, brought in 538 million euros to Sanofi’s coffers, down 27.3% due to generic competition in Europe. Loss of patent protection battered revenues for colorectal cancer drug Eloxatin (oxaliplatin) which sank 76.2 % to 94 million euros.

The firm’s new anti-arrhythmic Multaq (dronedarone) brought in 39 million euros, 31 million euros of which came from the USA. Launches are expected in the second half in France, Italy and Spain.

Sales at Sanofi’s vaccines division were down 1.3% to 748 million euros, the consumer healthcare business brought in 578 million euros (+65.4%) and generics revenues climbed 21.8% to 381 million euros.

Chief executive Chris Viehbacher said the Paris-based firm did well “in an environment impacted by the US. healthcare reform, price cuts in Europe and continued competition from generics”. He added that Sanofi will continue to maintain “a rigorous approach to cost control”, but it now expects flat to 4% lower earnings per share this year because of the effect of generic Lovenox.

On a conference call, Mr Viehbacher would not be drawn on a possible bid for Genzyme Corp, which has been widely rumoured this week. "We can't comment on specific speculation," he said, but noted that Sanofi is continuing to focus on acquisitions ranging from $5 billion to $20 billion. He added that there is no pressure to make a big buy, however.