French pharmaceutical company Sanofi said on Wednesday that company
sales rose 3.3 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2016 to €8.9bn, but
a slowdown in its Venezuela unit dragged overall full-year
sales down 0.7 per cent to €33.8bn.

The results come as Sanofi chief executive Olivier Brandicourt faces pressure from investors to improve its pipeline of drugs after losing out on two big biotech acquisitions last year.

Sanofi said that sales in Venezuela dropped from to €18m in 2016 from €455m in 2015, when it had benefited from a significant increase in demand. Excluding Venezuela, Sanofi’s sales increased 3.7 per cent in the fourth quarter and 2.6 per cent in 2016.

Overall sales were driven by the company’s specialty care Sanofi Genzyme (+17.3 per cent in 2016) and Sanofi Pasteur vaccines (+8.8 per cent) units. Exchange rate movement had an overall negative impact of 1.9 per cent during the year.

Sanofi has been working to streamline its business and in June completed an asset swap deal to exchange its animal health business with Boehringer Ingelheim’s consumer healthcare business.

Sanofi chief executive officer Olivier Brandicourt said:

Our streamlined organization started to deliver and supported a stronger financial performance than initially anticipated. At the same time, we completed the filing of our breakthrough innovation Dupixent for the first indication, atopic dermatitis, in the U.S and Europe. Separately, we recently advanced five new molecules into registrational studies.

In August, Sanofi was beaten by rival Pfizer in a race to buy
Medivation, the maker of a blockbuster prostate cancer medicine, for
$14bn. It also lost out in talks to buy Swiss biotech company Actelion, which agreed to a $30bn takeover by J&J last month.

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