Glaxo Growth: Pharmaceutical Company Posts 45% Profit Jump

Pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline PLC (GSK) said Wednesday its fourth-quarter profit rose 45 percent and said it expects sales growth of its key drugs to continue this year.

Glaxo, the world's second-largest pharmaceutical company after Pfizer Inc. (PFE), said net profit for the three months to Dec. 31, 2005 was $1.96 billion. Revenue rose 13 percent to $10.33 billion.

"GSK's fourth-quarter performance was a great finish to an excellent year for the company," said Chief Executive Jean-Pierre Garnier.

"Looking into 2006, the strong growth seen from key products such as Seretide/Advair, Avandia and from our vaccines business is set to continue, and we expect further good news on GSK's late-stage pipeline," he added.

Glaxo said that it expects to file for approval for its cervical cancer vaccine Cervarix in the European Union in March and in the United States before the end of the year.

Full-year profit rose 20 percent to $8.19 billion, on an 8 percent rise in revenue to $37.85 billion.

The company said that sales growth of its key drugs was strong across all geographical regions.

Its biggest selling product, asthma drug Seretide/Advair, recorded a 22 percent rise in sales to $5.2 billion while sales of its diabetes treatment Avandia/Avandamet rose 18 percent to $2.3 billion over the year.

The company's vaccines business posted total sales of $2.4 billion, up 15 percent, led by its Infanrix vaccine. Sales were particularly strong in the United States, where turnover rose 26 percent, boosted by the launch of two new products, Fluarix and Boostrix.

Glaxo added that it expects to begin clinical trials "in the coming weeks" on its prototype pandemic vaccine, which uses the H5N1 bird flu strain spreading from Asia to Europe.

It said it plans to file for drug approval in Europe this year and is in discussions with governments around the world on plans to "prime" populations and stockpile the vaccine.

Earlier Wednesday, Glaxo and U.S. drugmaker Adolor Corp. reported positive initial results from a pivotal-stage study of Entereg, their experimental drug to speed recovery after bowel resection surgery.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration had asked in July for additional proof of the drug's effectiveness before deciding whether to approve it. The two companies said they intend to submit the study results to the FDA by June and the drug could be approved by the end of the year.

After starting the trading day lower, shares in Glaxo rose 0.3 percent to $25.22 after the results announcement.