Page last updated at 16:58 GMT, Wednesday, 22 July 2009 17:58 UK

Flu treatment output 'to triple'

GlaxoSmithKline headquarters
Glaxo is in talks with many countries over the swine flu vaccine

Drugs giant GlaxoSmithKline says it expects to triple capacity of its flu treatment Relenza to 190 million treatments per year.

Glaxo also said it had received contracts for 195 million doses of the H1N1 vaccine for swine flu, adding that it was on track to meet the orders.

It said it was involved in continuing talks with more than 50 governments to supply pandemic products.

Glaxo said pre-tax profits in the three months to 30 June fell 6% to £2.1bn.

Group turnover during the quarter was down 2% to £6.7bn.

Increasing production

Glaxo said its performance had been boosted by sales of Relenza, "reflecting continued orders from governments across the world for pandemic stock-piling".

Sales of the treatment were £60m in the quarter, compared with £3m in the same period a year ago.

Since the outbreak of swine flu, Glaxo said it had committed to increasing production levels of Relenza and effectively developing a new H1N1 vaccine.

Shipments of the vaccine are expected in the second half of 2009 and early 2010.

Price balance

Chief executive Andrew Witty denied accusations that the firm was profiteering from the demand for the swine flu drug.

He told the BBC that the firm had invested up to $2.5bn (£1.5bn) in the past three years to ensure that it could meet the government's demand for the drug.

And Mr Witty added that the firm was not charging more than it did for other seasonal flu drugs.

It was reported that the firm was charging the NHS £6 for each dose of Relenza, which cost it £1, but the company said this was "wrong".

Mr Witty would not be drawn on the costs of manufacturing the drug, but said typically the production cost was about 25% of the sale price.

"We are trying to strike a balance between society and our shareholders, who want to see a return on the risks we take."

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