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PARIS, April 28 (Reuters) - French drugmaker Sanofi reported higher-than-expected first-quarter profits on Friday, buoyed by its speciality care division Genzyme, vaccines and consumer products acquired from Germany's Boehringer Ingelheim.
The drugmaker, which confirmed its full-year outlook, said it was confident Dupixent, a drug for moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis that was approved in the United States at end March, would sell well.
Analysts forecast annual sales exceeding $4 billion by 2022 for the biotech drug known chemically as dupilumab, according to Thomson Reuters data.
The product, developed with Regeneron, is seen as the most important growth driver for the two companies.
"We have been very encouraged with the early coverage ... we had worked with payers in anticipation of the launch," Sanofi Chief Executive Olivier Brandicourt told journalists.
"We are getting more or less two very large pharmacy benefit managers, for coverage of around 25 percent of covered lines in the U.S. So we are very pleased with that ... and the launch is delivering so far exactly on our expectations," he said.
U.S. pharmacy benefit managers help private-sector medical insurers negotiate better prices from drugmakers and also draw up so-called formularies, which are exclusive lists of drugs they reimburse for the insurers they work for.
Sanofi and Regeneron have said Dupixent would have a list price of $37,000 a year.
But while the price before discounts and rebates to insurers is far more expensive than topical medicines and steroids currently used to treat eczema, it is less expensive than other injectable antibody drugs for serious skin conditions, such as psoriasis, that list for about $50,000 a year.
Sanofi said first-quarter business net income rose 1 percent at constant exchange rates to 1.8 billion euros ($1.95 billion). Total sales rose 8.6 percent to 8.65 billion.
Analysts polled by Reuters in partnership with Inquiry Financial had on average been expecting business net profit of 1.6 billion euros and net sales of 8.38 billion.
Genzyme's sales were up 15.5 percent while revenue at the vaccines divisions rose 22.2 percent. Consumer healthcare products sales were up 42.7 percent.
Hurt by continued U.S. pricing pressure, diabetes and cardiovascular sales however suffered another downturn with revenue falling 7.7 percent.
$1 = 0.9203 euros Reporting by Matthias Blamont; Editing by Andrew Calus and Leigh Thomas