Covid-19 boosts sales for French drug giant Sanofi

By Sarah Elzas with RFI
Europe © Charles Platiau/Reuters
APR 24, 2020 LISTEN
© Charles Platiau/Reuters

The French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi has seen an increase in sales for the first quarter of 2020 partially due to drug sales during the Covid-19 pandemic.

On Friday the company posted 8.97 billion euros in sales for the first quarter of 2020, or 6.9 percent higher than the year before.

"Covid-19 stocking in channels explains about half of company sales growth in Q1,” wrote the company in a statement.

Consumer drugs sales increased 4.2 percent, to 1.3 million euros, which the company attributes to the coronavirus epidemic. In Europe, sales of pain and cough remedies went up 6.1 percent, particularly sales of Doliprane (paracetamol) in France.

The company's sales growth was also boosted by a nearly 130 percent increase in sales of its drug Dupixient, developed with the American company Regeneron, to treat allergies like eczema and asthma.

Profits on the rise
Sanofi showed a net income of 1.7 billion euros, up 48 percent, compared to the same quarter last year, due to a lowering of charges for the company.

In February the company had proposed paying dividends of 3.15 euros per share, an increase for the 26th year in a row. This contrasts with several companies who have reduced or cancelled dividends for 2019 because of the pandemic.

The company says it expects business to grow by five percent in 2020, “barring unforeseen major adverse events”.

Coronavirus vaccine and treatment
Sanofi is involved in several collaborations to develop a Covid-19 vaccine, including a collaboration with British drugs company GSK to combine technologies, an mRNA vaccine possibility with Translate Bio, and reviving previous work on a Sars vaccine with Barda.

The company also said it is working with Luminostics to develop a self-testing solution.

Sanofi is also involved in two studies to evaluate the effectiveness of the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine (which it sells under the name of Plaquenil) as a treatment. A preliminary US study has been unable to prove its efficacy.

It is also initiating a clinical study to evaluate the drug Kevezara in hospitalised patients. The company says it may play a role in boosting the immune response against the acute respiratory distress syndrome that appears in serious Covid-19 cases.

Sanofi will be running trials outside the United States, with Regeneron leading trials in the US.

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