By Matthias Blamont
PARIS (Reuters) – Sanofi confirmed its 2021 targets after it posted stronger-than-expected first quarter results as sales of its star eczema treatment as well as flu and polio vaccines helped offset a dip in cough and cold treatments dented by lockdowns.
The French drugmaker, which stunned investors last year with a delay to its COVID-19 vaccine candidate it is developing with Britain’s GlaxoSmithKline, said on Wednesday it expected results next months from a phase II study evaluating the shot.
Sanofi has since tried to appease critics with deals to fill and pack millions of doses of vaccines made by Pfizer/BioNTech, Johnson and Johnson and Moderna.
It is also teaming up with U.S. company Translate Bio to bring a second COVID-19 vaccine of its own to the market that it hopes will be ready next year.
Sanofi’s first-quarter net income was up 14.7% at 2.017 billion euros ($2.43 billion) at constant exchange rates. Revenue rose 2.4% to 8.6 billion euros.
While sales of speciality care, which include revenue of Dupixent, and vaccines, supported by vivid demand for influenza and polio shots, grew by 15.3% and 5.3%, respectively, revenue of the consumer healthcare unit fell by 7.3% as a result of lower sales of cough and cold season products.
Vaccination combined with mask wearing, social distancing and more frequent handwashing imposed by the coronavirus crisis appear to have led to a drop in influenza contaminations in Europe this season.
Sanofi said last year’s first quarter was a high base for comparison as people had stocked up in that period because of the pandemic. Cough, cold and flu medications fell by close to 60% in the first three months of 2021.
Novartis on Tuesday said a weak flu season had hit its generic cough medicines business, leading the Swiss drugmaker to post a first-quarter profit below analyst expectations.
($1 = 0.8284 euros)
(Reporting by Matthias Blamont; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri and Edmund Blair)