New Fabrazyme plant offered bright spot for dismal Sanofi earnings

Sanofi's ($SNY) decision to open a new plant this year producing Fabrazyme is responsible for one of the few bright spots in its earnings report last week. 

The French drugmaker said that Genzyme, the U.S. biotech unit Sanofi bought last year, delivered 22.5% sales growth, thanks to recovery in Fabrazyme supplies, a drug to treat the rare Fabry disease. That was in a quarter in which the company saw net income drop 7.4% to €2.22 billion ($2.9 billion), FiercePharma reports.  

Sanofi actually bought Genzyme last year for its expertise in rare diseases, a fast-growing pharma niche, while Genzyme was struggling with supply problems stemming from a 2009 contamination problem at a plant in Allston, MA. The viral contamination brought the Boston-area plant to a standstill and led to a consent decree.

As the company worked to clean up the facility and bring supplies of Fabrazyme and Gaucher's disease drug Cerezyme back online, it drew buyout interest from Sanofi, which promised that its manufacturing expertise could help. That led to a $20.1 billion deal loaded included extra payments to shareholders based on certain operational goals--including production targets for those two drugs.

Then earlier this year the company won FDA approval for its Framingham, MA, plant and began shipping Fabrazyme in March. In its earnings report the company said third quarter sales of the drug were up 146.9% to €87 million ($112.8 million). Third-quarter sales in the U.S. were €44 million ($57 million), up a whopping 290%.The company said that Genzyme anticipates approvals for the new plant from regulators in the majority of the remaining markets it sells into by the end of 2013. That should lead to even more growth for Fabrazyme.

- read the FiercePharma story
- here's the earnings release (PDF)