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France’s Sanofi raises earnings forecast, pleased with eczema drug uptake

France’s Sanofi raises earnings forecast, pleased with eczema drug uptake

PARIS: France’s Sanofi <SASY.PA> raised its 2017 earnings forecast, citing strong second-quarter growth in consumer healthcare, vaccines and its Genzyme unit and said it was encouraged by U.S. uptake of eczema drug Dupixent. The drugmaker, whose shares were up 2.1 percent in early trading, said it now expected “broadly stable” earnings per share (EPS) this year compared to a previous forecast of stable to slightly lower EPS. Sanofi’s EPS in 2016 stood at 5.68 euros($6.66).

In March, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Regeneron Pharmaceuticals’ <REGN.O> and Sanofi’s biologic drug for atopic dermatitis – also referred to as eczema – Dupixent, that will sell for a list price of $37,000 for a year of treatment. While the price before discounts and rebates to insurers is far more expensive than topical medicines and steroids currently used to treat eczema, it is cheaper than other injectable antibody drugs for serious conditions, such as psoriasis, that list for about $50,000 a year. Sanofi Chief Executive Olivier Brandicourt told journalists that sales of Dupixent in its first full quarter on the market had reached 26 million euros.

In a note to clients, Bernstein said the figure came in between its forecast of 25 million euros and a consensus of 33 million. Analysts on average expect Dupixent to reach annual sales of 4.7 billion euros by 2023, according to Thomson Reuters data. Sanofi said 13,000 patients had been prescribed with the medication, which also received a positive recommendation from a European Medicines Agency panel earlier this month. Despite high selling prices and fierce competition, biologics are seen as a potential answer to a vast array of diseases. In contrast to most drugs that are chemically synthesized, many biologics are produced using living cells. They are seen as a promising answer in cardiovascular, neurology and cancer diseases, and Sanofi plans to invest more in this field. Dupixent is considered a key drug for Sanofi and Regeneron, as it is also being developed for severe asthma. Sanofi said second-quarter net income was down 0.5 percent at constant exchange rates to 1.7 billion euros – in line with analysts’ forecasts. Total sales rose 5.5 percent to 8.66 billion euros.

Analysts polled by Reuters in partnership with Inquiry Financial had on average been expecting business net profit of 1.7 billion euros and net sales of 8.7 billion. The geographical mix of sales showed strong momentum in emerging markets and Europe but falling revenues in the U.S. While nearly all of Sanofi’s units recorded double-digit revenue growth in the quarter, sales at the group’s diabetes division were down 15 percent due to persistent pricing pressure in the United States, where prescriptions of cheaper copies ofthe group’s treatments are picking up. Shares in Sanofi, which lost out in a bid to buy Switzerland’sActelion <ATLN.S> earlier this year, are up by around 8 percent so far in 2017 – beating a 3.5 percent rise on the STOXX Europe 600 Healthcare index <.SXDP>.