GlaxoSmithKline has posted another disappointing set of financials which show that second-quarter sales fell 13%, while core operating profit sank 25% to £1.41 billion.

Group sales came in at £5.56 billion, while pharmaceutical and vaccines turnover was down 4% (percentages from here at constant exchange rates) to £4.54 billion, hit by increased competition in the US respiratory market (-14%). Total sales of Advair (salmeterol and fluticasone) for asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, fell 12% to £1.01 million, while its new COPD drug Breo (fluticasone furoate/vilanterol) contributed £11 million to GSK's coffers.

The figures were also battered by generic competition to the heart drug Lovaza (omega-3-acid ethyl esters) which collapsed 81% to £27 million. The Avodart (dutasteride) franchise, for the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia, decreased 2% to £199 million, while Lamictal (lamotrigine) for seizures and bipolar disorder, rose 2% to £124 million.
As for newer products, Benlysta (belimumab) for lupus had sales of £41 million (+21%), while the sarcoma drug Votrient (pazopanib) reached £101 million, a leap of 41%. Promacta/Revolade (eltrombopag) for immune thrombocytopenia contributed £55 million, up 36%, while vaccines were up 5% to £766 million.

China pharma sales down 25%

As for pharma and vaccines turnover, geographically, the USA was down 10%, Japan fell 7%  and Europe was flat. The high-profile bribery investigation in China saw pharma/vaccine sales there fall 25% to £129 million), but there were strong contributions from Brazil, up 49% to £116 million, and Middle East/North Africa/CIS, up 8% to £211 million.

The lacklustre performance led to a revised full-year forecast by GSK and a prediction that core earnings per share would be "broadly similar to 2013”, compared with a previous prediction of 4%-8%.
Chief executive Sir Andrew Witty (pictured) was upbeat, however, claiming that “we're making significant progress on a journey that's been underway now for six or seven years”. The company has 40 new molecular entities in late-stage development, and he said that “just over the next seven or eight years, we'd expect maybe two-thirds of those opportunities to be possible first-in-class medicines or vaccines”.

Chief financial officer Simon Dingemans noted that the process has begun to sell established products with sales of around £1 billion, mainly in the USA and Europe. “We’ll be talking to potential purchasers of that over the next few months with a view to trying to crystallise that, assuming that we can get the right value before the end of the year,” he said.

The results have gone down badly with investors and at 3pm (UK time), GSK’s shares had fallen 5.7% to £14.67.