As corporate restructuring looms, Sanofi's vaccines deliver in 2015

In the midst of a reshaping, Sanofi has identified its vaccines outfit, Sanofi Pasteur, as a core unit to the company's future. And despite the challenges impacting the company at the corporate level, the vaccines unit had some bright spots to talk up in reporting Q4 and 2015 results.

Sanofi ($SNY) reported this week that its vaccine sales grew 15% in Q4 and 7.3% for the full year at constant exchange rates, propelled by a record year for its flu vaccines and double-digit gains in emerging markets. Vaccines accounted for 12.8% of Sanofi's overall sales for the year, coming in at €4.74 billion. The unit's operating margin increased 4.8% to 29.8% in 2015.

The world's top flu vaccine supplier, Sanofi Pasteur grew its flu vax sales to €1.32 billion (up 2%) by focusing on the differentiated vaccines Fluzone HD, Fluzone Quadrivalent and Fluzone Intra-Dermal, it said in a release. However, excluding Brazil, where competitor Butantan Institute released additional supply, Sanofi's worldwide flu sales increased 7%; flu vax sales were up 11.8% in the U.S.

Only one vaccine class, "travel and other endemic vaccines," saw a sales decrease on the year, falling 6.9%. Meanwhile, sales increases for the remaining vaccine classes, flu (2%), polio/pertussis/hib (8.1%), meningitis/pneumonia (16.7%), adult booster (10.1%), and others (19.9%), all played a part in the growth.

Looking forward, Sanofi said it anticipates a "strong vaccines outlook" in the second half of this year as it ramps up the launch of its high-stakes dengue vaccine, Dengvaxia, and improves supply constraints currently impacting Pentacel. With four Dengvaxia approvals already in the bag and 16 others pending, Sanofi said it'll be "progressively transitioning" the launch from licensure to vaccination campaigns this year.

The results are likely welcome to the higher-ups at Sanofi, who have watched the company's flagship diabetes business sputter in recent years. In 2015, revenues in that segment fell 6.8%, and executives said on Tuesday that earnings this year are expected to be flat. The financial woes have led new helmsman Olivier Brandicourt to launch a €1.6 billion cost-cutting effort, including 500-some layoffs that reportedly could impact vaccines staff.

- here's the release
- and a presentation (PDF)
- get more from FiercePharma

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