by Sheela Philomena on  April 28, 2011 at 10:21 AM Corporate News
 Rise in GlaxoSmithKline Profits
In the first quarter net profit of GlaxoSmithKline rose 14 percent to 1.525 billion pounds. GSK was rocked in September when the EU medicines regulator decided to pull its former diabetes product Avandia off the shelves over fears that it increased the risk of heart attack and strokes.

Savings from a major cost-cutting programme and asset disposals helped to offset a 10-percent drop in sales to 6.585 billion pounds in the three months to March 31, compared with the first quarter of 2010, GSK said in a statement.

Regulators also restricted its availability in the United States.

Meanwhile sales of GSK's herpes treatment Valtrex have been hit by generic competition.

"Reported (first quarter) sales were down 10 percent, reflecting a 1 billion reduction in sales of pandemic products, Avandia and Valtrex versus a year ago," chief executive Andrew Witty said in Wednesday's results statement.

"This impact is set to decline going forward and we expect underlying sales growth to translate into sustainable reported growth in 2012."

Shrugging off the sales slump, Witty said that the first quarter was "positive on many fronts, with good progress made in delivery of our strategy to improve long-term financial performance".

He added: "Increased confidence in the operating performance of the business and resulting cash generation is allowing us to accelerate returns to shareholders."

GSK raised its dividend by seven percent to 16 pence a share and said it expected share repurchases this year to be at the top end of its forecast range of 1-2 billion pounds.

Following the announcements, GSK's share price showed a gain of 1.23 percent to 1,276 pence. London's benchmark FTSE 100 index was up 0.19 percent to 6,080.79 points in afternoon trade.

GSK's latest results come after it had booked a net loss of 690 million pounds in the final quarter of 2010 on huge legal charges largely linked to Avandia.

The pharmaceutical giant announced at the start of the year that it would take a US legal hit of �2.2 billion linked to the drug.

The EU decided to pull Avandia owing to concerns over its active substance rosiglitazone. It decided also to halt the sale of Glaxo's other diabetes drugs, Avandamet and Avaglim, since they too contained rosiglitazone.

Source: AFP

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