Faced with a competitive market, Sanofi has sought to differentiate its influenza vaccines in recent years, winning US Food and Drug Administration approval for the high-dose trivalent and quadrivalent forms of its Fluzone for use in people 65 years and older.
Fluzone High-Dose Quadrivalent, which won FDA approval late in 2019, is the only high-dose inactivated influenza vaccine licensed in the US, providing Sanofi with a point of differentiation versus products such as GSK’s FluLaval Quadrivalent.
Having differentiated its portfolio, Sanofi has begun focusing on the value of vaccine sales, which is set to hit a new high this year, rather than the volume of products it sells. Thomas Triomphe, head of vaccines at Sanofi, set out the thinking behind the switch in focus on a July 28 conference call to discuss second quarter results at the French drugmaker.
“It's been a while since we stopped talking about volume,” said Triomphe. “What we're really looking at is how we contemplate value. So, each time we are talking about a record full year, it's about sales. We pivoted from standard dose vaccines a few years ago to deliver differentiated flu vaccines that provide protection beyond flu endpoint itself. The market is totally recognizing the value of those products, and, therefore, each time we're talking about a record value it’s in sales.”
Sanofi’s influenza vaccine sales hit €2.6bn ($2.7bn) last year, up 6.3% on a reported basis. Triomphe expects Sanofi to top that figure, itself a record for Sanofi, in the current year.
The prediction came weeks after an immunization practice committee at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention voted in favor of a preferential recommendation for Fluzone High-Dose and two other vaccines over standard-dose unadjuvanted flu vaccines in adults aged 65 years and older. The two other vaccines covered by the recommendation are Sanofi’s own high-dose Flublok Quadrivalent and Seqirus’ adjuvanted Fluad and Fluad Quadrivalent.
After building capacity a few years ago, Triomphe is confident Sanofi can meet demand for its vaccines. Sanofi expects 60% of sales to come in the third quarter, with the rest happening in the fourth quarter.