Virbac H1 sales hurt by Iverhart recall in U.S.

Sales of products for the production animal category in emerging markets were up significantly for French drugmaker Virbac in the first half. It was helped in South America by the integration of Uruguay-based Santa Elena, which it bought last year, but it was not enough to overcome difficult foreign exchange rates and weak sales in the U.S. after having to recall 34 lots of its Iverhart Plus chewable heartworm medicine last year.

The Carros, France-based company said that sales in the first half were €366.1 million ($495 million), down 1.6% from the the same quarter a year ago. It said that amounted to 4% growth when adjusted for a strong Euro.

The company said sales in markets like India, South Africa and South America were up 9%, with strong sales in its production animal category. It got some benefit from the full integration of Santa Elena, after acquiring in September the 70% share of the company it did not already own.

The drugmaker said its U.S. sales were hurt by a weakness in the companion animal category, particularly of its parasite med Iverhart Max, as distributors waited for the reintroduction of its Iverhart Plus. The company last year recalled nearly three dozen lots of Iverhart Plus because they failed potency specifications. It began distribution of Iverhart Plus this month.

The introduction of Iverhart Plus comes even as Sanofi's ($SNY) Merial is relaunching its own heartworm tablet, Heartgard.

- read the earnings announcement
- here's the recall notice