Glaxo calms fears over loss of Zantac patent

Glaxo Wellcome, the UK's biggest drugs group, yesterday moved to allay City fears about its future after its best-selling Zantac anti-ulcer drug loses partial patent protection in the US later this year.

Sir Richard Sykes, the chief executive who will take over the chairmanship in May, warned that sales of Zantac, just under a quarter of the group total last year, could plunge by as much as 80 per cent after the patent expires in July.

But in a clear message to analysts who have suggested earnings at the group could go into reverse, he said he expected turnover growth to be back up in double-digit percentages by 1999, while earnings would be "at least maintained" over the next two years.

Products introduced since 1990 hit sales of pounds 2bn last year, overtaking Zantac for the first time, Sir Richard said. "Sales of new products give us confidence as we go forward into 1997 and 1998, which will be tough years. Even under the worst-case scenario for that business, we can grow the business in low single-digit numbers and once we get through 1998, we have confidence we can grow in double digits."

The outcome of Glaxo's appeal against a US court ruling allowing rival drugs group Novopharm to sell a generic form of Zantac is expected shortly. Sir Richard said Glaxo would announce strategies for dealing with the competition, which would only hit around 10 per cent of the group's sales, by July.

The shares, which initially dipped 28.5p yesterday, ended 14p ahead at pounds 10.49.

One analyst said for the first time the company had looked over to the other side of the Zantac chasm: "Today could mark an important turning point at Glaxo in that the stock market may now start to focus on life beyond Zantac."

Steve Plag at Barclays de Zoete Wedd, the stockbrokers, said sales growth excluding Zantac was 14 per cent last year, led by products introduced since 1990. Between now and the end of the century, the company would launch another 20 drugs, he said. "We all know 1997 is going to be a very, very tough year, but by 1999, this company is going to look very, very different."

Sir Richard's comments came as Glaxo Wellcome announced pre-tax profits of pounds 2.96bn for last year, 18 per cent ahead of the figure for the 12 months to December 1995, excluding the costs of integrating Wellcome. The results covered the first full year since the pounds 9bn acquisition of the drugs group. John Coombe, Glaxo finance director, said the integration was "bang on target", delivering pounds 150m of savings last year. Most of the 7,500 planned cut in the combined groups' workforce had been achieved, and the focus was moving from research and development activities to manufacturing operations.

Glaxo said sales of anti-HIV products more than doubled to pounds 500m last year.

Investment column, page 23

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
New Articles
tvDownton Abbey Christmas special
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Kellie Bright as Linda Carter and Danny Dyer as Mick Carter

EastEnders Christmas specials are known for their shouty, over-the-top soap drama but tonight the show has done itself proud thanks to Danny Dyer.

Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashion
Sport
sport
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Selby Jennings: Oil Operations

Highly Competitive: Selby Jennings: Our client, a leading European Oil trading...

The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operations Manager

£43500 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operatio...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - LONDON

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000 + Car + Pension: SThree: SThree are a ...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35K: SThree: We consistently strive to be the...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there