Novo Nordisk and Sanofi showing signs of pressure from increasingly competitive market for diabetes drugs

Pharmaceutical majors Sanofi and Novo Nordisk have met with a mixed bag of results during the latest quarter results. Both of the companies have succeeded in beating expectations of the market in terms of their earnings and have reiterated earlier guidance for full-year performance. However, market expert Andrew Ward wrote that the two companies are still showing signs of pressure due to increasingly competitive diabetes drugs market.

France’s Sanofi has reported sales of €8.54bn, nearly flat from previous year or 1.9% down on a constant exchange rate basis. This was less than the €8.63bn which was analysts’ consensus forecast.

A 20% growth in the Genzyme division, which manufactures treatments for uncommon diseases and multiple sclerosis, has counterbalanced a 4.5% fall in diabetes sales after the loss of patent protection on the best-selling Lantus insulin of the group.

Earnings of Sanofi per share have seen 1.5% increase or 5.3% on a constant currency basis, at €1.34, against the set expectations for €1.29.

The results have come one day after Sanofi made an announcement regarding a $9.3bn voluntary offer for Medivation, a cancer drug developer in California, as chief executive Olivier Brandicourt has been looking for new sources of growth. He said that the solid performance shown by the company in the first quarter has pleased him and he is hopeful that earnings will become ‘broadly stable’ during the full year, in comparison with last year.

Denmark’s Novo Nordsik has reported DKr3.71 earnings per share, which is 2.1% down from previous year but better as compared to the DKr3.62 forecasted by analysts. The company’s sales have gone up by 8%, or 9% in local currencies, reaching on DKr27.2bn, as expectations.

“Growth in earnings before interest and tax in 2016 is now expected to be around 4 percentage points below growth in local currencies, it said. The company had previously expected both metrics to grow around 1 percentage point below the local currency level,” according to a news report published by Market Watch.

Net profit for the three months ended Mar. 31 fell to 9.46 billion Danish kroner ($1.45 billion) from DKK9.88 billion the same period in 2015, after last year’s figure was boosted by income from the initial public offering of a subsidiary. Analysts polled by FactSet expected a net profit of DKK9.16 billion.

According to a report in Medpage Today by Crystal Phend, “The novel glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) analogue semaglutide reduced major adverse cardiovascular event (MACE) risk in top-line results from the phase IIIa SUSTAIN 6 trial, Novo Nordisk announced.”

The trial showed success for the primary endpoint of noninferiority for cardiovascular death, myocardial infarction, and stroke compared with placebo and a statistically significant reduction on that combined endpoint as well.

Until last year, no diabetes drug had shown better than noninferiority in the FDA-mandated cardiovascular outcomes trials. Then the sodium-glucose cotransporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitor empagliflozin (Jardiance) showed a relative 14% reduction in MACE compared with placebo in the EMPA-REG trial, drawing cheers from diabetes specialists gathered to hear the findings presented.

A report published in FT informed, “Sanofi of France reported sales of €8.54bn, almost flat from last year or down 1.9 per cent on a constant exchange rate basis. This was below analysts’ consensus forecast for €8.63bn.”

Growth of 20 per cent in the Genzyme division, which makes treatments for rare diseases and multiple sclerosis, offset a 4.5 per cent decline in diabetes sales following the loss of patent protection on the group’s best-selling Lantus insulin.

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