GSK posted a forecast-topping 15% hike in third-quarter profit yesterday on the back of healthy sales growth for key products such as respiratory drug Advair and Avandia for diabetes.

But investors were disappointed by the news that GSK had delayed the planned filing for its cervical cancer vaccine Cervarix in the USA to April 2007 from the end of this year, as well as the discontinuation of 270773 for sepsis and a clinical hold on Redona (denagliptin), a member of the much-touted DPP-4 inhibitor class of diabetes drugs, while toxicity issues are investigated.

Net income climbed to £1.39 billion ($2.62bn) on revenues up a less impressive 3% to £5.64 billion, held back by currency factors.

Advair/Seretide (salmeterol and fluticasone) for asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease grew 14% to £813 million in the quarter, a solid performance but a little shy of what was hoped for by analyst Navid Malik at Collins Stewart. He believes new data in COPD, specifically the positive effect on mortality seen in the TORCH trial, will give a short-term lift to the product’s sales momentum.

Avandia (rosiglitazone) and related combination products advanced 11% to £378 million, and Malik believes that the publication of DREAM data in September, indicating that the drug can prevent diabetes, will be a significant driver for growth, along with new data in December from the ADOPT trial, which is comparing the drug with rival compounds on diseases outcomes.

These studies should help Avandia fend off the onset of competition from DPP-IV inhibitors Galvus (vildagliptin) from Novartis and Merck & Co’s just-approved Januvia (sitagliptin).

Other positives for GSK included a hike in vaccine sales to £412 million, up 5% despite some shipment delays, and the recent approval of new flu vaccine FluLaval in the USA which should boost sales momentum.

Meanwhile, sales of Lamictal (lamotrigine) for epilepsy were up 27% to £257 million in the quarter, and heart disease drug Coreg (carvedilol) advanced 32% to £195 million. The latter franchise will benefit from the approval in the USA last week of a longer-acting formulation – Coreg CR – that will be launched in the first quarter of 2007.

Valtrex (valaciclovir) for herpes infections also did well with a 26% rise in sales to £215 million, said GSK.