Sales of diabetes drugs in Japan are a key H2 performance gauge, Sanofi CEO says

Sanofi CEO Olivier Brandicourt

Olivier Brandicourt, CEO of Sanofi ($SNY), gave his thoughts on the July 30 earnings call about trying to launch a simplification program in the midst of high-profile global rollouts, competition and dealmaking. He also picked one contest to watch in Japan that may be a good gauge of the company's performance on all counts.

Brandicourt noted that diabetes sales outside the U.S. represented 43% of the global total, making the second half of 2015 ripe for the impact of the expected launch of insulin glargine biosimilar in Europe and Japan.

"Outside the U.S. we also note the ongoing launch of Toujeo in Germany and the U.K., and recent regulatory approvals in Japan, Canada, and Australia," Brandicourt said.

"In Europe, where we received approval in late April, the launch is helped by a strong and differentiated label versus Lantus."

In July, Japan approved Sanofi's next-generation basal insulin Lantus XR, or Toujeo, (insulin glargine) to treat Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, marking the first Asian approval of the drug marketed as Toujeo in the U.S., Europe and Canada.

The approval sets up what will be an eagerly watched competition with Novo Nordisk's ($NVO) Tresiba (degludec) in Japan where about 9.5 million people have a form of diabetes.

A biosimilar of Lantus from Eli Lilly ($LLY) and Boehringer Ingelheim approved earlier this year has already made a splash with Trulicity, a once-weekly GLP-1 receptor agonist for the treatment of Type 2 diabetes, sold in collaboration agreement with Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma.

Brandicourt was also upbeat on the launch of a dengue vaccine this year, expecting the first license to be granted before the end of 2015, though Olivier Charmeil, executive vice president for vaccines, said it was a "little bit too premature" to discuss plans for the ramp up.

"As we speak we have filed in seven countries. We will have filed in 20 countries by the end of the year that represent roughly half of the worldwide population at risk of dengue," he said, adding that the ramp-up for 2016 and 2017 onwards will be "very much dependent on the objective country-by-country in terms of getting the impact of dengue reduction."

- here are the Sanofi earnings release and presentation