Vaccines provide a boost for GlaxoSmithKline, Sanofi and Merck in second-quarter financials

Vaccine
Merck, GSK and Sanofi posted vaccine sales growth in the second quarter.

For three of the world’s top four vaccine companies, sales growth churned along in the second quarter as other areas of business struggled. Vaccines outperformed other units at GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi, while Merck’s immunizations posted double-digit growth.

GSK’s vaccine sales grew 5% at constant exchange rates in the second quarter to £1.1 billion ($1.45), outpacing pharma growth of 3% and consumer healthcare, which was flat over 2016’s second quarter. At actual exchange rates, GSK’s vaccine sales grew 16%, and the company’s vaccine operating margin was higher than that for the other two businesses.

During last week’s conference call, GSK executives said vaccine production is among three leading areas GSK’s management has identified for future investment priorities.

RELATED: Bexsero gains propel GSK's vaccines unit to pharma-beating 16% growth in Q1

Sanofi’s vaccine group, Sanofi Pasteur, grew sales 19.2% at constant exchange rates during the second quarter to just over €1 billion. That number was enough to outpace 14.4% growth at rare diseases outfit Genzyme. Diabetes and cardiovascular sales, as well as general medicines and emerging markets, each fell at Sanofi.

Despite the overall strength in Sanofi Pasteur’s numbers, the drugmaker’s Dengvaxia launch hit a wall during the period, posting just €1 million in global sales. But CEO Olivier Brandicourt told analysts on Monday’s conference call he’s “encouraged” by discussions for a new vaccination program in Brazil. He didn’t share any other details on those talks.

RELATED: Sanofi creates vaccine growth in 2016 despite lifeless Dengvaxia launch

Merck, for its part, grew vaccine sales 11% over the period to $1.4 billion, executive vice president Adam Schechter told analysts on a Friday conference call. HPV shot Gardasil and shingles vaccine Zostavax each beat Wall Street expectations, by $39 million and $6 million, respectively, according to a note from Jefferies.

But Merck is “starting to see some impact from the transition from a three-dose to a two-dose regimen” in the U.S., Schecter said on Friday. The CDC signed off on that change last fall, and the company has warned it could affect Gardasil sales.

Separately, both Sanofi and Merck reported sales increases from the termination of their European joint venture.

RELATED: CDC aims to jump-start Gardasil uptake with a new two-dose HPV shot schedule

It remains to be seen whether the fourth major vaccine company, Pfizer, will post a sales increase for its immunization unit, as that drugmaker reports earnings on Tuesday. Pfizer’s key pneumococcal vaccine Prevnar 13 has experienced a recent sales slowdown due to its early success.