Sanofi's earnings for the second quarter have been hit by generics, though less than expected and chief executive Chris Viehbacher says most of the patent cliff is behind the French drugmaker.

Business net income, which excludes items, decreased 9.6% to 1.94 billion euros, principally due to loss of exclusivity in the USA on the bloodthinner Plavix (clopidogrel) and the antihypertensive Avapro (irbesartan), partnered with Bristol-Myers Squibb. However, turnover rose 6.2% to 8.87 billion euros, while pharmaceutical sales slipped 0.4% to 7.51 billion euros.

Plavix brought in 553 million euros to Sanofi’s coffers, down just 0.1%, though worldwide sales were down 43.3% to 1.10 billion euros.Worldwide, Avapro fell 22.3% to 382 million euros.

Patent expiries meant that the cancer drug Taxotere (docetaxel) slumped 27.9% to 159 million euros, while the antithrombotic Lovenox (enoxaparin) fell 11.1% to 489 million euros. On the bright side, the Paris-headquartered firm's diabetes division contributed 1.44 billion euros (+13.7%), and Lantus (insulin glargine) made up 1.23 billion euros of that, a rise of 16.5%.

Sales of the colorectal cancer drug Eloxatin (oxaliplatin), which goes off-patent next month, were up 35.9% to 375 million euros, while Jevtana (cabazitaxel) for prostate cancer contributed 65 million euros, an increase of 27.1%. The anti-arrhythmic Multaq (dronedarone) brought in just 64 million euros, down 14.7%, hit by updated labelling in the USA.

Sales at Sanofi’s vaccines division were up 3.0% to 783 billion euros, while the consumer healthcare business brought in 738 million euros (+11.3%). Revenues from the generics unit rose 7.8% to 468 million euros.

As for Sanofi's Genzyme unit, Cerezyme (imiglucerase) for Gaucher disease was down 13.9% to 150 million euros and Fabrazyme (agalsidase beta) for Fabry disease increased 123.3 to 74 million euros as the firm recovers from previous manufacturing problems. Sales of Lumizyme/Myozyme (alglucosidase alfa) for Pompe disease grew 9.1% to 113 million euros.

Mr Viehbacher (pictured) said the results are no surprise, but the loss of exclusivity "is something we’ve anticipated for the last three years". He added that "we built a whole strategy around not only making it through the patent cliff, but actually preparing the company for a period of sustainable growth afterwards".