Glaxo's profits rise but latest drugs disappoint

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The Independent Online

the drugs group Glaxo Wellcome unveiled disappointing performances from its newest drugs yesterday, in what are likely to be its last results before merging with SmithKline Beecham - and the last presented by Sir Richard Sykes as executive chairman.

the drugs group Glaxo Wellcome unveiled disappointing performances from its newest drugs yesterday, in what are likely to be its last results before merging with SmithKline Beecham - and the last presented by Sir Richard Sykes as executive chairman.

Interim pre-tax profits rose 20 per cent to £1.59bn, beating expectations as established drugs performed strongly. However, sales of Lotronex, the pioneering irritable bowel syndrome treatment, and Relenza, the flu treatment, were well below expectations. Glaxo said a negative opinion on Relenza from the government's NICE committee slowed its uptake world-wide. US regulators had hampered marketing of Lotronex.

The overall improvement comes a year after Glaxo increased marketing having said it would miss 1999 sales targets.

Sir Richard, who becomes non-executive chairman of the merged group and rector of London's Imperial College, said he would miss being an executive. "I have led Glaxo through a period of transition. Going forward my role will be to bring the science base closer to business." Glaxo will say next month where the merger's job losses will arise. Sir Richard said morale remained high, although there was some anxiety.

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