GlaxoSmithKline has posted a solid set of financials for the third quarter this afternoon, despite earnings being hit hard by generic competition in the USA.

The company reported a 3% decline in operating profit, before restructuring charges, to £2.22 billion, while group turnover was up 3% to £6.76 billion. Pharmaceutical sales was up 2% to £5.59 billion, despite drug sales in the USA sinking 12% to £2.14 billion.

Generic competition across the Atlantic again tore into sales of Lamictal (lamotrigine), which fell 21% to £121 million and Imigran/Imitrex (sumatriptan), down 74% to £53 million. The antidepressant Wellbutrin (bupropion) slumped 70% to £16 million, reflecting the sale in May of the US rights to Wellbutrin XL in the USA to Biovail for $510 million.

The Avandia (rosiglitazone) diabetes franchise brought in £185 million, down 14%, while revenues from GSK’s HIV franchise fell 7% to £392 million. Turnover from the antidepressant Seroxat/Paxil (paroxetine) decreased 12% to £120 million.

Vaccine sales slipped 2% to £802 million, and revenues from the cervical cancer vaccine Cervarix, which has just been approved in the USA and Japan, fell 40% to £28 million. That decline was the result of the timing of tender shipments in Europe, GSK said.

On the positive side, sales of Advair/Seretide (salmeterol and fluticasone) for asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease were up 5% at £1.15 million. Other strong performances came from Avodart (dutasteride), for the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia (+14% to £131 million), the heart disease drug Lovaza (omega-3-acid ethyl esters; +27% to £111 million) and the breast cancer drug Tykerb/Tyverb (lapatinib; 54% to £46 million).

The most spectacular rise came from the flu drug Relenza (zanamivir) soared to £182 million, reflecting continued orders from governments for pandemic stock-piling. GSK chief executive Andrew Witty claimed that fourth-quarter figures will include significant sales generated from our influenza products, noting that the firm has received orders for approximately 440 million doses of Pandemrix, its H1N1 vaccine.

Her went on to say that GSK’s restructuring programme to deliver £1.7 billion in annual savings “is making good progress and cumulative annualised cost savings now amount to £1 billion”.