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Sanofi sees first dengue vaccine filings in first quarter of 2015

PARIS (Reuters) - Sanofi expects to submit regulatory applications for the world's first dengue vaccine in the first quarter of 2015 and the French drugmaker could start selling the first batches at the end of that year, CEO Chris Viehbacher said on Thursday.

"We would expect the first launch countries to be in Latin America - Mexico, Brazil, Colombia - (and) possibly if I look at Asia, Singapore and Malaysia as the priority countries," Viehbacher told analysts on a conference call detailing the group's first-half results.

"I think you will probably start to see the initial sales possibly as early as the fourth quarter of 2015," he added.

A large late-stage clinical study showed this month that Sanofi's vaccine provided moderate protection against dengue fever, but questions remain as to how well it can help fight the world's fastest-growing tropical disease.

Sanofi has invested over 1.3 billion euros ($1.74 billion) in the past 20 years in developing the vaccine, which is several years ahead of potential competitors, and the firm has built a dedicated factory near Lyon in southern France with capacity to produce 100 million doses a year.

(1 US dollar = 0.7470 euro)

(Reporting by Natalie Huet; editing by Geert De Clercq)