Sanofi creates vaccine growth in 2016 despite lifeless Dengvaxia launch

In spite of trouble picking up steam with its first-of-a-kind dengue shot, Sanofi’s vaccines unit chipped in with 8.8% growth on the year, providing a boost for the company as other units failed to hold their ground.

Dengvaxia finished 2016 with €55 million in sales after a “limited” fourth-quarter performance, Sanofi said in its release, during which it generated just €5 million in sales. The company expected a low total for the quarter, as it hasn’t been able to line up any new immunization campaigns in endemic areas, according to the statement.

Instead, fourth-quarter sales for the shot came from private markets and from an earlier immunization push in Brazil’s Paraná State.

The €55 million result is a far cry from previous estimates of €200 million for the vaccine’s first full year on the market. Last July, exec had to walk that expectation back after political and economic turmoil in Latin America took a toll on Dengvaxia’s launch.

All along, immunization campaigns have been considered critical to the launch of a shot that took 20 years and $1.5 billion to develop. So far, only the Philippines and Paraná have announced vaccination programs utilizing the shot. Sanofi says it expects more regulatory decisions on the shot in endemic countries throughout 2017.

"We are working diligently with local health authorities to initiate new vaccination programs," Sanofi CEO Olivier Brandicourt said on the company's conference call.

Aside from Dengvaxia, Sanofi was able to record some vaccines wins in 2016. It sold a record number of flu shots to bring in €1.5 billion for the year, and pediatric combination sales were up 16.5% in the fourth quarter to €544 million.

For all of 2016, Sanofi Pasteur turned in total revenues of €4.58 billion, an 8.8% increase over the previous year at constant exchange rates.

That growth figure beat out Sanofi’s consumer healthcare, general medicines and emerging markets and diabetes and cardiovascular units, which each recorded sales declines from the previous year. But vaccines came short of Sanofi Genzyme, which grew sales 17.3% to €5 billion on the year.