Sanofi's Eloctate, a Bioverativ buyout centerpiece, suffers on Roche's Hemlibra launch

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Sanofi's vaccine unit Sanofi Pasteur turned in 20% growth in the first quarter to €873 million. (Sanofi on Flickr)

Sanofi has been among the pharma companies hardest hit by U.S. pricing pressure in diabetes, and now, competition is taking a toll on a prized asset from its $11.6 billion Bioverativ buyout.

In the first quarter, hemophilia drug Eloctate's sales of €174 missed consensus estimates of €204 million by 14.7%, ODDO BHF analysts wrote in a note to clients. A 4.2% dip in Q1 year-over-year sales was "attributable to tougher competition" in the U.S. thanks to Roche's Hemlibra, they wrote. 

Eloctate isn't the only drug the Roche newcomer is threatening. In October, it picked up a nod in hemophilia A patients without factor VIII inhibitors, broadening its patient pool significantly and setting it up to challenge Eloctate and other hemophilia A treatments. Thanks to big efficacy numbers and a convenient subcutaneous dosing regimen, analysts expect it to rack up $2 billion or more by 2025.

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RELATED: Sanofi snaps up Biogen's spun-out Bioverativ in $11.6B deal

Sanofi picked up Eloctate in last year's $11.6 billion buyout of hemophilia-focused Bioverativ. The deal was one of several moves by the French drugmaker intended to shift the company away from a reliance on primary care and bring it further into rare diseases.

Execs didn't much want to discuss Eloctate's long-term future on Friday's Q1 earnings call, though, instead pointing to pipeline med BIVV001, which has turned in promising data to date.

Luckily for Sanofi, even amid the Eloctate slide and primary care struggles in the first quarter—the unit's sales fell 17%the company turned in growth, thanks to standouts in rare diseases and vaccines.

Rare disease outfit Genzyme and vaccines group Sanofi Pasteur grew revenues by 31% and 20%, respectively. Each of the company’s vaccine categories grew sales during the period, helping Sanofi Pasteur reach sales of €873 and beat consensus estimates by 12.5%. In China, Sanofi managed to grow its business by 22%, providing another boost to its top line. 

Outside of its own offerings, Sanofi's vaccines unit also got a boost from GlaxoSmithKline's successful Shingrix rollout, as well. Sanofi’s vaccine distribution outfit VaxServe brought in €241 million during the quarter, an increase of 32%, partly due to GSK’s massive shingles vaccine launch, execs said on Friday’s call.

RELATED: Sanofi's Dupixent set for $2.5B in peak asthma sales after scoring winning label: analyst 

In the immunology unit, Genzyme’s atopic dermatitis and asthma launch Dupixent continued to gain steam, reaching €329 million in sales and beating consensus by 6%. The company is seeking another label expansion to treat nasal polyps, and exes say they're still in very early stages for the rollout.

Altogether, the company increased sales by 6.2% on a reported basis to €8.39 billion. That performance came despite a 7% slip in diabetes revenues, continuing a long trend for that business.

All in all, CEO Olivier Brandicourt said in a statement the company is adapting to pressures in primary care by focusing on new launches and emerging markets.  

“Based on our performance in the first quarter, we remain confident in the growth outlook for our business over the rest of the year despite challenging industry dynamics,” Brandicourt said.

RELATED: Sanofi plans sales layoffs—again—in primary care, diabetes 

Meanwhile, the drugmaker is undergoing an effort to cut costs across its business, Brandicourt said on Friday’s conference call. Sanofi is “pulling all of the levers” to try and cut costs to boost earnings, including through early retirement initiatives in France and Germany, he said. The company recently announced an undisclosed number of primary care sales layoffs in the U.S., as well.

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