British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline announces a drop in quarterly sales but, as David Pollard reports, a deal with Novartis this year should help revive its fortunes.
GlaxoSmithKline is one of the leading drug companies rolling out experimental Ebola vaccines in Liberia this week. The trial run involves thousands of volunteers and is being tested in a bid to slow the spread of the epidemic. But Glaxo may have other products to worry about. The pharma giant announced an 8% drop in fourth-quarter sales to £6.19 billion. Sukaina Virji is from the research group Scrip Intelligence. (SOUNDBITE) Sukaina Virji, News editor, Scrip Intelligence, saying (English): "The main issue for GSK in 2014 has been its US respiratory franchise. Advair went off patent and the replacement products in GSK's respiratory franchise just haven't delivered." Britain's top drugmaker says it expects a challenging first half of the year but is optimistic about future prospects. GSK is looking to refocus its business following an asset swap with its Swiss peer Novartis. The deal should also give GSK potential flexibility to spin off some operations. (SOUNDBITE) Sukaina Virji, News editor, Scrip Intelligence, saying (English): "It's a huge revolutionary deal. And once it closes, which is expected within this first half, it will free up GSK to do different things. Andrew Witty spoke today on the conference call about opening up any corporate structuring, restructuring activities. You know, he's open to anything quite frankly that will deliver shareholder value, and people are excited about that." One area being singled out is GSK's HIV unit. Some reports suggest the division could be listed on the stock market by 2016, placing it among the most prominent share offerings in the healthcare industry.