Giving credence to the merger between France’s Sanofi-Synthelabo and Germany’s Aventis, Sanofi-Aventis this morning said it has seen growth ahead of the market for the first quarter of 2005, with sales up 12% on a comparable basis to 6.4 billion euros and net income jumping 28% to 1.4 billion euros from 1.1 billion in the first three months of last year.

And its pharmaceuticals business was particularly strong, with sales also boosted 12% to just over 6 billion euros – taking its share of the world market to almost 5.5%. The firm’s top 15 products – headed by the clotbusting agent Lovenox (oxaliplatin) – pulled in 3.8 billion euros, up 18%, and representing 62% of total pharmaceutical net sales. Individually, Lovenox saw a double-digit 18% rise in revenue for the three-month period to 500 million euros, while the super-aspirin Plavix (clopidogrel) jumped 21% to 468 million euros and Allegra (fexofenadine) to treat allergies was boosted 23% to 386 million euros.

Chairman and CEO, Jean-Francois Dehecq, stated: “In my view, these results are highly promising, and make us even more confident that our full-year guidance will be met. They reflect the soundness of the strategy we unveiled when the Group was formed, and the huge contribution of everyone at Sanofi-Aventis to ensure rapid delivery of the resources and synergies generated by the merger.” The company forecasts 2005 net sales ahead of the world pharmaceuticals market growth, with EPS in line with the rate achieved in 2004. Pre-tax savings for the twelve-months are expected to top 960 million euros, rising to 1.6 billion euros at the end of 2006 [[01/03/05c]].