Sanofi Pasteur blamed lower U.S. Fluzone supplies compared to a year ago for “a tough comparison” in Q3 2012 sales of its seasonal flu vaccine. They dipped 8% at constant exchange rates, to €608 million ($810 million), even though that number is about 1% above the €602 million ($802 million) of third quarter 2011.
“The ability to really reap rewards from a difficult flu season is limited by their ability to manufacture the vaccine,” Damien Conover, CFA, a director covering the healthcare industry for Morningstar, told GEN.
When results for all of 2012–2013 emerge, Conover added, “Sanofi could potentially see sales there actually move the needle. As you move down the list [of vaccine manufacturers], it’s harder to see as much of a bump to overall sales, just because they don’t contribute as much.”
Morningstar has estimates for only one flu product: Genentech’s Tamiflu is projected to more-than-double to about $750 million this year from about $350 million in the 2011–2012 flu season, with overall 2013 Roche revenue expected to rise about 1%, to $44.8 billion. Tamiflu sales were disappointing in the first half of 2012, falling 18% at constant exchange rates to CHF 221 million ($236.5 million) from CHF 262 million ($280.4 million) in the first six months of 2011.
Tamiflu is sold in capsules (75 mg, 45 mg, and 30 mg) and liquid. On Dec. 21, FDA approved expanded use of Tamiflu to treat infants two weeks old or older, with up to two days of flu symptoms. Since Tamiflu liquid for children is in short supply, Genentech has advised pharmacists to dissolve capsules in sweetened liquids.
Genentech recently worked with FDA to release a reserve stock of Tamiflu 75 mg capsules with different packaging than seen in the U.S. “With the addition of these reserve supplies, we anticipate having sufficient supply of Tamiflu capsules to meet demand for this flu season,” Genentech said Thursday in a statement.
Novartis distributed 36 million doses of Fluvirin this season, 6 million above its 30-million-dose commitment, spokeswoman Elizabeth Powers told GEN. “We have completed shipments of Fluvirin to the U.S. market and are currently working with public sector stakeholders and our distributors to help ensure that our flu vaccines are broadly available and to address urgent public health needs. Additionally, we are evaluating options to meet increased demand, if needed.”