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French pharmaceuticals group Sanofi is relying on a pipeline of new products to boost long-term growth as it battles falling sales of its blockbuster insulin drug and mounting fallout in the Philippines over its dengue vaccine.
The group said at an investor day in Paris on Wednesday that it has nine regulatory submissions planned for the next 18 months including two investigational cancer drugs, one for type 1 diabetes and a potential treatment for uncontrolled, persistent asthma.
Sanofi is under pressure to make breakthroughs in research and development to expand its pipeline as its blockbuster diabetes drug Lantus has lost patent protection in the US and faces competition from cheaper rivals. Its new cholesterol drug Praluent has also recorded disappointing sales.
Olivier Brandicourt, Sanofi chief executive since 2015, said that the company was “confident” its portfolio would be “the foundation for Sanofi’s future long-term growth”.
Mr Brandicourt is under pressure from some investors to embark on a round of dealmaking after losing out on two big biotech acquisitions last year. At the investor day he said that Sanofi was “on track” to sell its European generic drugs division “in the coming year”.
The sale could be worth more than €2bn, according to bankers. Mr Brandicourt said that in oncology, where Sanofi wants to rebuild its portfolio, M&A targets were “very expensive”.
Pressure is also growing on Sanofi in the Philippines over safety concerns related to its Dengvaxia dengue vaccine.
Last week the country’s regulators suspended sales of Dengvaxia, which has been used in the world’s first mass immunisation programme against dengue fever, and its health secretary said the Philippines plans to sue the French pharmaceutical company.
The moves were in response to Sanofi’s warning that its vaccine could lead to severe infections in some cases, which provoked alarm in the Philippines, where dengue is prevalent and infections are common.
It emerged on Wednesday that even before Sanofi’s vaccines division, Sanofi Pasteur, had secured a contract from the Philippines government to provide Dengvaxia, it had already imported stocks of its dengue vaccine into the country.
Sanofi Pasteur’s Asia-Pacific chief Thomas Triomphe said as part of a probe by lawmakers that 200,000 vials — equivalent to 1m doses — were shipped to the Philippines by mid-January 2016. Sanofi was not awarded the mandate until six weeks later.
Mr Brandicourt said Sanofi had not set aside a budget for dealing with potential litigation regarding Dengvaxia. “We have no litigation budget . . . We are not into any litigation yet and there is no indication that there will be.”
Sanofi has said that it expects its net income for the fourth quarter to take a €100m hit as a result of the latest Dengvaxia analysis but continues to expect 2017 earnings per share for the business to be broadly stable, barring unforeseen major adverse events.