Sanofi-Aventis is the latest drugmaker to raise its full-year forecast on the back of anticipated sales of its swine flu vaccine.

The French firm said it expected its H1N1 vaccines to contribute some $500 million to sales in the fourth quarter after announcing solid figures for the third quarter this morning. They reveal that adjusted net income, excluding select items, rose 15.9% to 2.22 billion euros, or 1.71 euros per share (+16.3%). Sales were up 8.0% to 7.40 billion euros.

Sanofi’s biggest-seller was the diabetes treatment Lantus (insulin glargine), which enjoyed a rise of 21.7% to 778 million euros, while turnover of the antithrombotic Lovenox (enoxaparin) was up 13.7% to 747 million euros. The cancer drug Taxotere (docetaxel) climbed 1.4% to 526 million euros, while the bloodthinner Plavix (clopidogrel), partnered with Bristol-Myers Squibb, brought in 664 million euros to Sanofi’s coffers, up 4.1%, though sales were down 7.8% in Europe due to the introduction of generic competiton in Germany.

The antihypertensive Aprovel (irbesartan) increased 1.7% to 919 million euros, while the colorectal cancer drug Eloxatin (oxaliplatin) sank 44.3% to 193 million euros, due to generic competition in Europe. Sanofi’s vaccines division contributed 1.05 billion euros, up 4.8%, the over-the-counter business brought in 356 million euros (+26.3%) and generics revenues leapt 273% to 302 million euros.

Chief executive Chris Viehbacher said “overall I think we’ve made tremendous progress, both on the quarterly results, and then again on transforming our business”. In terms of generic threats to key products, he said “that’s the way this business works. Obviously, we have tremendous growth when we have patent cover, but inevitably patents come to their term.”

He added that “over the next two to three years we’re going to lose old friends, like Plavix and Taxotere and Eloxatin…and to a great degree, I look at those as simply future cash flows”.