GlaxoSmithKline has posted its first-quarter results which reveal a 5% fall in operating profit, before major restructuring, to £2.17 billion, while group turnover was down 10% at constant exchange rates, to £6.59 billion.

Pharmaceutical sales were down 14% to £5.26 billion, due in part  to the loss of revenues from pandemic-related products which boosted the like, year-earlier figures, ie down from £782 million to just £14 million. Also generic competition cut sales of Valtrex (valaciclovir) for herpes by 51% to £90 million, while the controversial Avandia (rosiglitazone) diabetes franchise slumped 79% to £36 million; sales of Avandia have been suspended in Europe and its use has been severely restricted in the USA.

Advair/Seretide (salmeterol and fluticasone) for asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease fell 2% to £1.22 billion, while strong performances came from Avodart (dutasteride), for the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia (+20% to £166 million), the heart disease drug Lovaza (omega-3-acid ethyl esters; +21% to £127 million).

Sales of  the breast cancer drug Tykerb/Tyverb (lapatinib) slipped 2% to £52 million, while  the bloodthinner Arixtra (fondaparinux) was up 9% to £74 million. Vaccine sales were down 46% to £758 million, while consumer healthcare turnover was up 7% at £1.32 billion.

Chief executive Andrew Witty said underlying sales growth was 4%, with strong performances in Japan, consumer and the emerging markets helping to soften “continued negative headwinds in our American and European businesses which of course will diminish as we go through this year”.

He added that the next few months will see the costs of “our major restructuring programme start to come to an end, while of course all the benefits, which have been going on for the last several years, are now firmly embedded within the business”. Mr Witty noted that the dividend to shareholders is up 7% to 16 pence, while £317 million of shares were bought back in the quarter.