UK drug major GlaxoSmithKline posted another solid set of figures for the second quarter of 2006, with profits up 14% to £1.85 billion ($3.44bn) on the back of strong sales gains for Seretide/Advair for asthma, diabetes drug Avandia and its vaccines business.The company said that the performance should lift its earnings per share growth to 12% this year, up two points from prior forecasts, but still lagging analyst consensus predictions of around 14%. Operating profit rose 13% to £1.91 billionPharmaceuticals sales rose 10% to £5 billion, led by a charge in the USA which advanced 18% to £2.6 billion helped by the impact of the new Medicare Part D legislation designed to increase access to prescription drugs for seniors. However, GSK’s European business was held back by competition to some key products, including allergy treatment Flonase (fluticasone). European turnover came in at £1.4 billion, unchanged from the same period of 2005.Advair (salmeterol and fluticasone) grew 12% to £822 million, a solid performance though showing some deceleration compared to recent quarters, and now that AstraZeneca’s rival Symbicort (formoterol and budesonide) has been approved in the USA – though not due for launch until next year – the product’s importance as the engine of GSK’s sales growth could diminish.Avandia for diabetes had a stellar quarter, with sales up a third to £477 million, helped in part by the re-launch of Avandamet (rosiglitazone plus metformin) in the USA after the resolution of manufacturing problems. GSK also got a green light for Avaglim (rosiglitazone and glimepiride) in Europe in June, which should help drive future growth.Vaccine sales surged ahead 17% to £387 million, with the good contributions from the Infanrix/Pediarix range of combination shots which advanced 38%.Highlights from GSK’s pipeline in the second quarter were the filings of Entereg (alvimopan) for post-operative ileus, with a launch targetted for before the end of the year, and Allermist (‘698), a new intranasal steroid for seasonal allergic rhinitis, in the USA and Europe.The company also plans to file for approval of much vaunted new breast cancer drug Tykerb (lapatinib) later in 2006 and cervical cancer vaccine Gardasil in the USA by the end of the year, as well as its new H5N1 flu vaccine. Meanwhile, Phase III trials have got underway for Redona (denagliptin), a diabetes medication that could compete with Novartis’ Galvus (vildagliptin) and Merck & Co’s Januvia (sitagliptin), and for rosiglitazone XR in Alzheimer’s disease.On the downside, radafaxine, a drug in development for depression and obesity drug that had reached Phase II testing, has been discontinued, said GSK.Top 10 products by first half 2006 sales

  1. Seretide/Advair $2.93bn +16%
  2. Avandia $1.35bn +33%
  3. Lamictal $862m +17%
  4. Zofran $822m +17%
  5. Wellbutrin $813m +38%
  6. Valtrex $749m +28%
  7. Coreg $689m +48%
  8. Imigran/Imitrex $640m +9%
  9. Flixotide/Flovent $612m +9%
  10. Seroxat/Paxil $572m +1%
Source: GlaxoSmithKline