Sanofi banks on Philippines to lead public Dengvaxia rollout

The high-stakes rollout of Sanofi's ($SNY) dengue vaccine, Dengvaxia, is slated this month in the private market, the lead executive for the product said, adding that a tender for 3 million doses is in advanced discussions in the Philippines for a public launch within weeks.

"We are expecting to get the first dosing arm on the private market by the end of February. And we are expecting in the upcoming weeks the public market to start in the Philippines," said Olivier Charmeil, executive vice president for vaccines, on the Feb. 8 fourth-quarter earnings call.

"We are discussing with the Filipino authorities on a tender of 3 million doses that we should get in the upcoming days. You probably saw that it was reported that the price that is considered is €20 ($22.59)."

Charmeil said a key to the wider rollout is adding more than the current countries--Brazil, Mexico, the Philippines and El Salvador--with 16 in a lineup now, which could potentially aid in limiting the spread, especially if done on a wide-scale public campaign level.

"The upcoming months are going to be important because we are starting the design of the immunization program with the various countries," Charmeil said. "But so far so good."

CEO Olivier Brandicourt noted that Dengvaxia is one of key three rollouts in 2016 worldwide, joining efforts on Toujeo (insulin glargine) and Praluent (alirocumab). 

Sanofi CEO Olivier Brandicourt  

For Dengvaxia, in particular, getting wider support through multilateral campaigns is also a goal, Brandicourt said.

"Initial shipments of the vaccines arrived in the Philippines at the end of January," he said. "Further regulatory decisions are pending in 16 additional countries, and going forward, we expect 2016 to be a year of transition from additional licensure to vaccination campaigns in priority countries."

Asia and Latin America are priority areas for the rollout, with Asia a strong point for the firm in the fourth quarter, Brandicourt said, labeling it "our strongest region" with sales up constant currency terms.

"This was particularly boosted by double-digit growth in China where we have gained market share," Brandicourt said. "In 2015, China has become Sanofi's third-largest country by sales, with €2.2 billion, up 19.5%."

Peter Guenter, executive vice president for general medicine and emerging markets, added some detail on China.

"So basically what we have as competitive advantage is, number one, a very adapted portfolio to China," Guenter said in response to an analyst question on growth in the country.

"You know we are really in chronic diseases, cardiovascular, diabetes, but also oncology, also CNS, and of course with a very good result of the vaccines portfolio during the fourth quarter."

"Then, last but not least, we're just gaining share in markets where we compete. You mentioned it yourself: diabetes, a very good performance and Lantus is actually the number one basal insulin in the Chinese market."

However, like executives at rival Novo Nordisk ($NVO), Guenter noted price pressures in China tenders, but said they are manageable.

"So we have also, of course, baked into our budget assumption some additional pressure on prices for our Chinese market and we do think we will continue to beat the market."

- here's the release