Vaccines slip, Dupixent climbs for Sanofi as it readies multiple launches in 2023

Sanofi is used to reporting strong Dupixent sales growth by now, but a decline in flu vaccine revenues brought an unusual twist for the drugmaker in the fourth quarter.

Sanofi's fourth-quarter vaccine sales slipped 16% to 1.7 billion euros ($1.83 billion). The decline was expected, Sanofi's vaccines head Thomas Triomphe explained on a conference call, citing a "challenging vaccination environment marked by both patient and provider fatigue."

Within the category, sales of influenza vaccines declined by a whopping 32% to 802 million euros because the drugmaker collected a higher proportion of its revenues earlier in the season.

Despite the quarterly drop, Sanofi's vaccine sales for the full year increased by 6.3% to 7.2 billion euros. The company has new manufacturing capacity in the U.S. that helped its influenza business deliver a "record" year despite the fourth-quarter troubles, the company said in a press release.

Meanwhile, Dupixent continued to shine as the company’s star product. Thanks to new indications, including a European approval for children with asthma and FDA nods for eosinophilic esophagitis, young children with atopic dermatitis and prurigo nodularis, the drug reached 225,000 new patients throughout the year. Sanofi projects Dupixent will bring in 10 billion euros in 2023.

Overall, the company grew sales by 7% to 43 billion euros last year. Barring “unforeseen events,” Sanofi said it expects 2023 adjusted earnings per share to grow by “low single digit” percentages.

For now, Sanofi has a few potential growth drivers in the works. Hemophilia A injection Altuviiio is set for an FDA decision this month and will be an “important future growth driver,” Bill Sibold, executive vice president of specialty care, noted on the call. That drug, if approved, would compete with Roche’s Hemlibra.

And then there’s Beyfortus, the company’s AstraZeneca-partnered respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) prophylactic antibody. The therapy scored European approval in November and is up for an FDA decision during this year’s third quarter. As the RSV epidemic rages on, Sanofi is working with the FDA to expedite its approval timeline, Triomphe said.

The company is also looking to get into the chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder market with the Regeneron-partnered drugs Dupixent and monoclonal antibody itepekimab.

And, while Sanofi’s bids for Horizon Therapeutics were topped by Amgen, the pharma giant hasn’t let the loss change its M&A strategy. Simply put, the company is “always on the lookout” to seize an opportunity that could drum up value, Chief Financial Officer Jean-Baptiste de Chatillion said on the call.