French drugmaker Sanofi confirmed that earnings could decline by up to 15 per cent this year as top-selling drugs previously protected by patents, including blood thinner Plavix, are hit by competition from cheap copies. Sanofi expects to return to growth in subsequent years, thanks to emerging markets, diabetes, vaccines, animal health, its takeover of biotechnology company Genzyme and new products such as experimental multiple sclerosis drug Lemtrada. “Although as expected, Plavix will lose exclusivity in May in the US, the strong underlying performance of the business is consistent with our medium-term growth outlook,” Chief Executive Chris Viehbacher said in a statement on Friday. Sanofi said business earnings per share, which exclude items such as amortisation and legal costs, are expected to fall 12-15 per cent this year, reflecting a 1.4 billion-euro ($1.85 billion) dent from the loss of Plavix and blood pressure drug Avapro in the United States. Still, Viehbacher told reporters on a conference call that Sanofi did not “particularly need to do any” mergers or takeovers but that it would continue to look at bolt-on acquisitions. He declined to comment on possible interest in Amylin Pharmaceuticals or Human Genome Sciences, however. US biotech Human Genome Sciences, which rebuffed an unsolicited $2.6 billion takeover bid by British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline, said on Tuesday it was reviewing strategic options that included a sale of the company. Amylin started reaching out to potential buyers earlier this month, according to sources familiar with the situation. Sanofi posted a 12.5 per cent rise in first-quarter business net income to 2.44 billion euros ($3.23 billion), driven by Genzyme, diabetes drug Lantus, consumer healthcare products and cost savings.