GlaxoSmithKline has posted second-quarter results which show that core operating profit was down 7% to just over £2.00 billion at constant exchange rates, while group turnover fell 2% to £6.46 billion.

Pharmaceutical sales were down 3% to £4.44 billion, hit principally to pricing pressures in Europe and greater parallel trade. These factors led GSK to predict that group turnover this year will be the same as 2011.

In terms of products, Advair/Seretide (salmeterol and fluticasone) for asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, was again GSK's top-seller, but came in flat at £1.27 billion. The Avodart (dutasteride) franchise, for the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia, increased 6% to £197 million, while Lamictal (lamotrigine) for seizures and bipolar disorder, grew 14% to £147 million. Breast cancer Tykerb/Tyverb (lapatinib) rose 5% to $60 million.

Heart drug Lovaza (omega-3-acid ethyl esters) was up 4% to £157 million, while the asthma inhaler Ventolin (albuterol) brought in £147 million (-1%). However, the bloodthinner Arixtra (fondaparinux) fell 36% to £47 million as a result of generic competition in the USA, while copycat versions of Valtrex (valaciclovir) sent the herpes treatment down 24% to £66 million.

As for new products, Benlysta (belimumab), the lupus drug partnered with Human Genome Sciences, which GSK has just agreed to buy for $3 billion, had sales of just £12 million. Promacta/Revolade (eltrombopag) for immune thrombocytopenia contributed £30 million, up 76%, while the sarcoma drug Votrient (pazopanib) was up 77% to £39 million. Vaccine sales were flat at £763 million.

'Remarkable' R&D output

Chief executive Sir Andrew Witty (pictured) said the results reflect "the challenging macro-economic environment in which we are operating and the continued transition of our product portfolio". He claimed that "R&D output this last quarter has been remarkable", having received "very encouraging Phase III data for assets to treat chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes and HIV and received regulatory approvals for two new vaccines".

Sir Andrew said that of the 15 drugs with Phase III data expected by the end of 2012, "12 have now reported some or all of their data, with 10 positive and two negative". Several of these programmes "are reporting ahead of schedule and we already have the vast majority of data required to support the potential launch of eight major new drugs and vaccines in the next 24 months".

The CEO added that "whilst there is still much to be done to get these products registered, this marks the beginning of a new phase in pipeline delivery for GSK and it is essential that we mobilise the organisation to optimise this opportunity".