Glaxo boosted by soaring demand for its shingles vaccine and Covid-19 treatment


Glaxo boosted by soaring demand for its shingles vaccine and Covid-19 treatment

Glaxosmithkline has been boosted by soaring demand for its shingles vaccine and treatment for Covid-19.

The drugs giant said sales hit £7.8billion in the three months to the end of September – up 18 per cent on a year earlier – while profits jumped 18 per cent to £2.6billion.

And in a huge boost for chief executive Emma Walmsley, GSK raised its forecasts for sales and profits for the second time this year.

Pain relief: In a huge boost for chief exec Emma Walmsley (pictured), GSK raised its forecasts for sales and profits for the second time this year

The FTSE 100 firm said sales growth may hit 10 per cent this year, up from an earlier forecast of 8 per cent. 

And profits will grow by up to 17 per cent – not 15 per cent as thought. It marked the second set of bumper results since Walmsley spun off its consumer health business Haleon in July to concentrate on new medicines and vaccines.

Sales of the shingles vaccine Shingrix jumped 51 per cent in the third quarter to a record £760million – prompting Walmsley to hail an ‘excellent’ performance. 

The 53-year-old added that GSK is ‘really excited’ about its vaccine for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), a disease which usually causes mild symptoms, but leads to thousands of hospitalisations and deaths globally each year in toddlers and the elderly.

GSK is racing Pfizer to develop a vaccine, and in a further boost for Walmsley amid criticism from activist investors, GSK has a priority review for the vaccine by the US regulator. That opens the door to the drug being approved by May.

EToro investment analyst Mark Crouch said: ‘GSK has blown consensus forecasts for the third quarter out of the water, thanks in part to record sales of its shingles vaccine. These results were crucial.’

But shares fell 0.03 per cent, or 0.4p, to 1445.60p, as fears remain over litigation over its former heartburn drug Zantac.

The once-popular drug in the US and UK, which was developed by GSK, was pulled in 2019 amid fears it contained a cancer-causing chemical.

The incident has led to more than 2,000 cases being filed in the US. GSK said yesterday it has set aside £45million for legal fees but analysts believe its liabilities could top £1billion.

GSK said the litigation is still ‘at the very early stage’ and GSK will ‘defend vigorously’ against the claims. Walmsley said: ‘There is no evidence of causation between ranitidine and cancer.’

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