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Genzyme parent’s profit suffers

PARIS — The French drug maker Sanofi said Thursday that its profit was slashed in the first quarter from a year earlier as falling sales and patent losses on key drugs combined to hammer earnings. Net profit was $1.3 billion, down 45 percent from a year earlier.

Revenue from Plavix, which had been the world’s second best-selling drug until its US patent expired last May, slid 5 percent. That, along with generic competition that cut sales of blood pressure drugs Avapro and Aprovel by 20.8 percent, dragged down total sales by 5.3 percent.

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Sanofi warned that core earnings per share could fall up to 5 percent this year, after a 12.8 percent drop in 2012. It also warned that growth would not return until the second half of 2013.

Sanofi played up strong performances in its diabetes and vaccines businesses and at its Cambridge, Mass.-based biotechnology company, Genzyme, but that was more than offset by lost sales from heightened generic competition for the drugs Eloxatin, Lovenox, Plavix, and Aprovel.

Sales in Western Europe and the United States, markets that account for over half of Sanofi’s total sales, fell by about 10 percent in the first quarter.

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