Sanofi-Aventis has managed to keep its head above the water after a tough year, booking an increase in earnings for 2010 on the back of strong sales in its core growth products.

The Paris, France-headquartered drugmaker said sales slipped 0.8% (at constant exchange rates) to 30.4 billion euros for the full year, after solid performances by many of its business units were dragged down by US healthcare reforms, austerity measures in Europe, and a whopping €2 billion of lost sales because of generic competition to products such as Lovenox (enoxaparin).

Of particularly note: emerging markets pulled in more than 9 billion euros in sales (up 16.3% over 2009); the consumer health care unit generated 2.2 billion euros (+ 45.7%); the generics division made 1.5 billion euros (+ 41.5%); and vaccines had a record year with sales of 3.8 billion euros, driven by 33% growth in turnover of seasonal flu vaccines.

And this helped the company to book business net income of 9.2 billion euros, marking growth of 2.6% (at CER), and earnings per share of 7.06 euros.

For the fourth quarter, Sanofi generated net sales of 7.4 billion euros, slipping 5.9% from the year-ago period, while business net income was down 9.7% at 1.8 billion euros and earnings per share fell 9.2% to 1.41 euros.

Looking forward, the firm said it expects that double digit sales increases in its growth platforms, but 2011 business EPS 5% to 10% lower (at CER) than that booked for 2010, barring major unforeseen adverse events. This, however, does not include any benefit from a possible acquisition of Genzyme, about which Sanofi is staying relatively tight lipped, saying only that talks between the two firms are continuing.

A full analysis of Sanofi's results by our on-location reporter in Paris will be available in PharmaTimes World News tomorrow.