GlaxoSmithKline felt the effects of generic competition to its antidepressant drugs and the weak dollar in 2004, which led to an 11% reduction in trading profit to £6.2 billion pounds and a 5% decline in sales to £20.4 billion, versus the previous year [[13/02/04a]].

The company’s chief executive, Jean-Pierre Garnier, insisted that GSK would stage a recovery in 2005, as it had “crossed the desert of generic erosion,” although there was pipeline disappointment as well with the news that the firm’s obesity treatment, 181771, had been dropped from development because of a lack of efficacy. The drug, which had reached Phase II testing, had been tipped to make $2 billion dollars in peak sales if it reached the market.

GSK’s 2004 sales fell as competition caused the antidepressant, Seroxat/Paxil (paroxetine), to suffer a 39% decline in turnover to reach £1.1 billion, while Wellbutrin SR (bupropion), also for depression, fell 12% to £751 million. However, sales of the once-daily Wellbutrin XL version, which was approved in 2003 [[29/08/03f]], more than doubled to £467 million, softening the impact across the franchise. Overall, generics conspired to reduce sales of the antidepressant franchise by a hefty £2.7 billion. Operating profit came in at £6.2 billion.

Several of GSK’s other drugs put in solid, double-digit revenue growth. The number one product, Seretide/Advair (salmeterol and fluticasone), for asthma, was up 19% to £2.5 billion, while Avandia (rosiglitazone) and Avandamet (rosiglitazone and metformin) for diabetes rose 32% to £1.1 billion. Other strong performers included Lamictal (lamotrigine) for epilepsy/bipolar disorder, which climbed 32% to £678 million, Valtrex (valaciclovir), for herpes, up 24% to £571 million, and Coreg (carvedilol) for heart disease, which rose 34% to £432 million.

The company is also hoping for six new product launches in 2005, including Vesicare (solifenacin), a drug for overactive bladder that was launched in the US last month and is being co-promoted with Yamanouchi Pharma America [[23/11/04c]], [[27/09/04g]]. The others are Rotarix, an oral vaccine to prevent rotavirus gastroenteritis, which debuted in Mexico last month and will roll out elsewhere through the course of the year [[10/01/05f]]; a once-monthly formulation of Boniva (ibandronate) for osteoporosis [[26/05/04b]]; Entereg (alvimopan) for post-operative ileus, developed with US firm Adolor [[12/01/05e]]; the extension of Parkinson’s disease drug Requip (ropinirole) into the new indication of restless leg syndrome [[08/06/04a]]; and Avandaryl (rosiglitazone and glimepiride) for diabetes.