Pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline, which has a County Durham base, has forecast a better 2014 as its drug research and development improves.
The drugmaker, which employs around 1,000 people at its base in Harmire Road, Barnard Castle, has predicted a pick-up in sales growth to around 2% this year.
Glaxo reported that sales were up 2% in the fourth quarter of the year ending December 31, 2013 to £6.9m, bringing full-year revenue to £26.51bn, which is flat on a year-on-year basis. Sales were up 5% in the fourth quarter and 1% for the full year.
The company reported an exceptional year for R&D delivery with approvals for six major products. New product launches have strengthened businesses in respiratory, vaccines, HIV and oncology. And around 30 brand innovations/extensions are expected in Consumer Healthcare in 2014.
In the Chief Executive’s review, Sir Andrew Witty said GSK’s performance in 2013 represented further strong delivery for the Group with expected improvement this year. The firm has also delivered its most productive period of R&D output in the company’s history.
He said: “GSK’s performance in 2013 represented further strong delivery for the Group. We met our guidance with core EPS growth of 4% and sales growth of 1% (+3% ex-divestments) and returned £5.2bn to shareholders via further growth in the dividend and our continuing share buy-back programme.
“GSK’s trading performance in 2013 was in line with our guidance, despite some unexpected challenges and reflected the improving balance of our sales base. I was encouraged by the improved performance of our US business (+1%, +4% excluding Vesicare divestment). We also saw stabilisation of our European business (flat sales) with the benefits of our restructuring programme helping to offset the ongoing economic and pricing pressures in the region.
“We are committed to investing behind continuing growth in our important Emerging Markets business. Sales in the region were up 5% for the year and 11% in the fourth quarter, excluding the impact of the ongoing investigation by the Chinese authorities. During the year, we also took steps to increase our equity holdings in our fast-growing Indian pharmaceuticals and consumer subsidiaries and announced plans to build new manufacturing capacity in the country. Witty has been focusing the company in recent quarters by spinning off assets such as the Lucozade and Ribena drinks brands.
He added: “Over the last two years we have taken steps to streamline our Consumer product portfolio and we have divested more than 50 non-core products, including, last year, Lucozade and Ribena for £1.35bn. Consumer Healthcare grew 4% excluding divested brands with growth across all regions.”