GlaxoSmithKline has just posted its third-quarter results which reveal a 3% increase in operating profit, before major restructuring, to £2.18 billion, while group turnover was up 3% at constant exchange rates, to £7.10 billion.

Pharmaceutical and vaccines sales inched up 1% to £4.63 billion, due in part to generic competition which cut sales of Valtrex (valaciclovir) for herpes by 12% to £87 million, and the loss of sales from pandemic-related products and the controversial Avandia (rosiglitazone) diabetes franchise. Advair/Seretide (salmeterol and fluticasone) for asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, was again the top-seller but sales decreased 3% to £1.22 billion.

However, a strong performance came from the Avodart (dutasteride) franchise, for the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia (+19% to £188 million), while Lamictal (lamotrigine) for seizures and bipolar disorder, grew 18% to £153 million. Vaccine sales were up 14% to £1.14 billion, helped by sales of Cervarix more than doubling to £232 million, while consumer healthcare turnover increased 5% to £1.33 billion.

GSK and Human Genome Sciences' Benlysta (belimumab), the first new drug for lupus in 50 for lupus, had sales of £19 million. It has been launched in the USA and Germany and will enter several additional markets during the fourth quarter.

Dividend up, more share repurchases

Chief executive Andrew Witty (pictured) noted that in the third quarter, cash inflows of over £2 billion were generated before legal settlements, "allowing us to continue to increase returns to shareholders". He announced a further 6% rise in the dividend to 17p.

In addition, plans for share repurchases this year have increased from around £2 billion to up to £2.3 billion and Mr Witty noted that "the process of divesting our non-core OTC brands continues and the brands are now being separated from the ongoing business". He added that "we are continuing to target a conclusion to the bidding process by the end of the year".

Chief financial officer Simon Dingemans said the results were reasonable "in the face of some considerable challenges out in the markets, with particular pressures from US healthcare reform, European austerity price cuts and also some price-cutting in some of our emerging markets as well".