Swine flu helps GSK to 13% sales surge

Pharmaceuticals giant GlaxoSmithKline revealed a further boost from last year's swine flu crisis today as it said H1N1 treatments helped first quarter sales surge 13 per cent.

The group said £698 million in swine flu vaccine sales helped drive the lift in first quarter revenues to a better-than-expected £7.4 billion.

Profits rose 16 per cent, with currency movements stripped out, to £2.2 billion in the first three months of the year, but Glaxo only expects to see around another £200 million in swine flu sales this year after governments scaled back orders as the threat of pandemic receded.

It has already signalled a tough year ahead as the swine flu benefits drop out and amid increasing pressure from cheaper generic competitors to its blockbuster drugs.

The group is offsetting this by slashing costs and confirmed today it was on track to make cumulative annual savings of £1.5 billion by the end of the year, as part of efforts to trim £2.2 billion by 2012.

Glaxo said in February that part of this would come from cuts in research and development, particularly neuroscience dealing with depression and pain.

It stressed at the time that job losses in the UK would be in the "hundreds not thousands", but there are fears of another 4,000 job cuts worldwide on top of previous headcount reductions.

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