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Sanofi profit rises 14%

SANOFI-AVENTIS SA, France's largest drug maker, said fourth-quarter profit rose 14 percent on demand for the Plavix blood thinner and Lantus for diabetics.

Adjusted net income was 1.63 billion euros (US$2.1 billion), or 1.25 euros a share, compared with 1.43 billion euros, or 1.07 euros a share, a year earlier, Paris-based Sanofi said in a statement yesterday. That beat the 1.62-billion-euro median estimate of five analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News.

Chief Executive Chris Viehbacher, who took over two months ago, must find new products to overcome generic competition to drugs that make up more than 35 percent of revenue.

He is under pressure as rivals such as Pfizer Inc make purchases. Sanofi will be "disciplined" on acquisitions, Viehbacher said.

"Don't expect us to announce something next week," he told reporters yesterday. "I am only 10 weeks into the job." Sanofi will focus on "small" to "medium-sized acquisitions" for now, he added.

Sanofi will revamp research after the failure of its obesity pill Acomplia, said Viehbacher.

The CEO, who ran GlaxoSmithKline Plc's North American unit for eight years, created three new positions at the company: chief strategy officer, chief medical officer and scientific adviser.

Sanofi's research will show "lower spending internally" and "higher spending externally," Viehbacher said.

Sanofi's sales growth comes from older products such as Plavix, cancer drugs Eloxatin and Taxotere.


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