Sanofi-Aventis saw its net profit surge in the fourth quarter of 2009 as sales of the H1N1 vaccine hit 465 million euros (roughly $638.3 million). And Wayne Pisano, who helms the company's vaccines business, said he expects the company to match that figure in the first four months of 2010.
The release, though, inspired some pointed questions about the company's H1N1 performance compared with GlaxoSmithKline, a Big Pharma competitor in the vaccine business that has recorded £883 million in annual sales of the swine flu vaccine. Sanofi CEO Chris Viehbacher said that Glaxo's ability to charge more in some markets because of the adjuvant in its vaccine may have provided the company with a bigger windfall. He added that Glaxo likely produced more swine flu vaccine last year while Sanofi took the lead in seasonal flu vaccine.
Vaccines have been a growth arena for Sanofi, which has been an active acquirer of small and medium-sized companies. And Viehbacher pointedly remarked that the company is far from finished on that score. He added, though, that mega-mergers aren't in the cards.
As the New York Times points out, Sanofi has been regrouping under Viehbacher, and vaccines are one of its three core spheres.