Swine flu jabs boost GSK sales

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The Independent Online

Glaxosmithkline revealed a further boost from last year's swine flu crisis yesterday as it said H1N1 treatments helped first-quarter sales surge 13 per cent.

The pharmaceuticals giant said £698m in swine flu vaccine sales helped drive the lift in first-quarter revenues to a better-than-expected £7.4bn.

Profits rose 16 per cent, with currency movements stripped out, to £2.2bn in the first three months of the year, but Glaxo only expects to see about another £200m 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 it was on track to make annual savings of £1.5bn by the end of the year, as part of efforts to trim £2.2bn by 2012.

The group added it was continuing to reduce reliance on "white pills/Western markets" to help reduce volatility seen with some of its treatments. Sales from these developed markets rose 27 per cent in the first quarter, down from 32 per cent a year earlier. The impact of generic rivals was clear, with first-quarter sales of its antiviral Valtrex down 46 per cent in the quarter after a patent expiry last November.