GlaxoSmithKline has posted its fourth-quarter results which reveal a 33% fall in operating profit, excluding previously-announced legal charges of some £2.17 billion, to £2.13 billion, while group turnover was down 13% at constant exchange rates, to £7.20 billion.

Pharmaceutical sales were down 16% to £5.55 billion, as generics  cut sales of Valtrex (valaciclovir) for herpes by 60% to £96 million, while the controversial Avandia (rosiglitazone) diabetes franchise slumped 76% to £49 million.

Sales of Avandia have been suspended in Europe and its use has been severely restricted in the USA to the point where GSK now says that future global sales of Avandia will be minimal.

Advair/Seretide (salmeterol and fluticasone) for asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease  fell 4% at £1.35 billion, while strong performances came from Avodart (dutasteride), for the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia (+22% to £177 million), the heart disease drug Lovaza (omega-3-acid ethyl esters; +11% to £147 million).

Also selling well is the breast cancer drug Tykerb/Tyverb (lapatinib; +23% to £60 million) and the bloodthinner Arixtra (fondaparinux; +8% to £80 million). Vaccine sales were up 20% to £833 million, while consumer healthcare turnover was up 4% at £1.27 billion.

Chief executive Andrew Witty said that "we have substantially re-engineered GSK’s business model over the last two and a half years, through major restructuring and a rigorous returns-based approach to capital allocation". He noted that "we are also having to deal with long-standing legal cases" and "there is no doubt that the scale of legal provisioning that has been required is significant". However, "it is in the company’s best interests to resolve this inherent unpredictability", Mr Witty insisted.

These moves are "fundamentally reducing GSK’s dependency on sales of products in ‘white pills/western markets'." he added.

For more analysis/reaction to GSK results, see PharmaTimes World News tomorrow.