Baxter International said this week at its annual stockholder meeting that 2004 “was a year of tremendous change” and revealed that it plans to up its investment in R&D for the first time since 2003.

In January, the company reported tumbling net income for 2004 as one-off charges took their toll, and it also disappointed investors by saying sales this year would rise just 2%-4% [[28/01/05f]]. Specifically, Baxter was hit by restructuring charges and a $245 million payment related to the suspension of its PreFluCel influenza vaccine study [[26/04/04d]], [[12/01/05g]].

Said Robert Parkinson, chairman and chief executive officer: “We are establishing a stronger financial foundation. We have built one of the strongest and most cohesive senior management teams in the healthcare industry, and we have made considerable progress over the last year in refocusing on disciplined operational excellence.” Parkinson continued: “We are re-energising our efforts to accelerate new product and business development, areas critical to accelerate our growth in the years ahead.”

And, on the upside, the company won US Food and Drug Administration approval earlier this week for its Gammagard Liquid [Immune Globulin Intravenous (Human)] product. During a webcast at the Morgan Stanley conference, the company revealed it anticipates peak sales for the product of $350-$400 million dollars following a fourth quarter launch in the USA – but this includes European revenues and full conversion to the liquid product from powder versions.