Sanofi's Dengvaxia launch rocked by turmoil in Latin America

Having spent two decades and $1.5 billion developing its first-of-a-kind dengue vaccine, Sanofi is sure to be unhappy to report that Dengvaxia’s launch has been slower than anticipated.

In second quarter results issued Friday, the French drugmaker said it’s likely going to miss its Dengvaxia sales estimates for the year of €200 million. The vaccine turned in €20 million in first half sales and just €1 million in the second quarter.

The high-stakes rollout has seen delays in Latin America due to political and economic turmoil, Sanofi said in its earnings statement. So far, the Philippines is the only country to have signed on for a vaccination campaign utilizing the vaccine, though Brazil’s Paraná State recently announced an initiative that’ll cover 500,000 residents, Sanofi said.

The vaccine has garnered 5 approvals with others pending throughout Asia. But in Brazil, the Butantan Institute recently initiated a Phase III trial in 17,000 people with another dengue vaccine candidate created by NIH scientists. Takeda is also working on a shot that could steal market share by 2020, analysts have predicted.

Aside from Dengvaxia, Sanofi posted vaccine growth that helped offset struggles in other areas. Overall, vax sales were up 6.3% to €797 million thanks in part to a gain of 28.6% in the company’s polio/pertussis/Hib vaccines segment. Flu sales were down 10.5% to €96 million in the quarter due to competition in Brazil from the Butantan Institute. Meningitis and pneumonia vaccines fell by 1.4% to €139 million and adult booster vaccines fell 9.3% to €104 million.

Manufacturing delays for Pentacel continued to dog sales in the U.S., though that vaccine was able to grow 1.8% over last year’s second quarter thanks to “gradual supply improvement,” execs said on a conference call. Overall, vaccine sales fell 2.3% in the U.S; that's an improvement from the first quarter, though, when Sanofi reported that supply constraints played a role in U.S. sales declines of 17.3% year over year. Sanofi said it expects more supply in the second half.

All told, Sanofi Pasteur’s growth fell short of Genzyme, which grew 20.1%, and Merial, Sanofi’s animal health unit slated for offloading to Boehringer Ingelheim, which grew 9.1%. But the unit performed better than the company’s flagship diabetes and cardiovascular unit, which posted sales 3.5% lower than last year’s second quarter, and general medicines, which decreased by 5.6%.

- here's the release

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