GSK flags up pipeline as HIV drugs help it beat profit forecasts
By Ben Hirschler
LONDON (Reuters) - GlaxoSmithKline moved to reclaim its prowess as a research powerhouse on Wednesday by flagging up dozens of new drugs and vaccines in development, as demand for new HIV medicines helped it beat quarterly profit forecasts.
Strong sales of Tivicay and Triumeq validated GSK's decision in May to keep its HIV business, rather than spinning it off, and offset a further slide in revenue from lung drug Advair and lower group profit margins following a major business overhaul.
The drugmaker recently sold its marketed cancer drugs to Novartis and bought the Swiss group's vaccines, while increasing its consumer health business through a joint venture.
The $20 billion-plus asset swap was designed to ensure sustainable growth, but the strategy will take time to pay off and GSK reiterated its forecast for a high-teens percentage decline in 2015 earnings, at constant exchange rates.
Chief Executive Andrew Witty, who reset expectations for the group three months ago, is now under intense pressure to deliver a promised recovery from next year, following past profit disappointments and a damaging corruption scandal in China.
Longer-term hopes hinge on the company's research pipeline and GSK said it had around 40 new drugs and vaccines in Phase II or Phase III clinical development.
Witty told reporters he was particularly excited about a new shingles vaccine, as well as experimental drugs for chronic lung disease and asthma, anaemia and heart disease.