By Denise Roland

 

Stockpiling of prescription drugs combined with strong demand for flu vaccination and over-the-counter cough and cold medications in response to the coronavirus pandemic boosted Sanofi SA's sales in the first quarter.

The French health-care giant on Friday said sales rose 6.9% to 8.97 billion euros ($9.68 billion) in the three months to March 31, while net income climbed 48% to EUR1.68 billion. Business net income--a measure that strips out certain one-time items--increased 15.9% to EUR2.04 billion.

Sanofi attributed half its growth to stockpiling and raised demand amid the pandemic, with Aubagio--for multiple sclerosis--insulin products and the flu vaccine among those with higher-than-normal sales.

That more than made up for some negative impacts of the pandemic. Those included delays in patients starting a new multiple-sclerosis drug, lower sales of hospital-administered drugs like chemotherapies and a drop in demand for travel vaccines.

Sanofi is also involved in several efforts to counter the coronavirus. It is a major manufacturer of hydroxychloroquine, an antimalarial that doctors believe could help combat the virus. It is running trials in Covid-19 patients on that and its arthritis drug Kevzara, which could help dampen a potentially fatal immune response to the virus. Sanofi is also working on two vaccines against Covid-19.

 

Write to Denise Roland at denise.roland@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

April 24, 2020 03:23 ET (07:23 GMT)

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