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Wednesday, 12 February, 2003, 17:58 GMT
Glaxo offers reassuring pill
Glaxo lab
Glaxo hopes to launch a raft of new products
Strong sales of anti-depressants have helped boost sales at the UK drug giant GlaxoSmithKline as it fights against copycat drugs from rivals.

The group, Europe's biggest drugmaker, reported an 8% rise in earnings for the year, slightly ahead of expectations.

Glaxo said its sales of Seroxat/Paxil and Wellburtin, two drugs for treating depression, had seen significant gains in the year.

Under the circumstances of difficult markets and adverse currency they look very good figures

James Culverwell, Merrill Lynch

Competition from rival drugs hit sales of a number of products, particularly its antibiotic Augmentin.

But Glaxo cheered the market with news that its product development was pushing ahead, with plans for 12 new drugs to be launched within the next two years.

Tough environment

Glaxo reported a 4% rise in sales for 2002 to $21bn (13bn) while profits rose from $6bn (3.7bn) to $6.5bn (4bn).

Chief executive Jean-Pierre Garnier said the strong performance had come "despite a challenging environment".

Analysts and investors seemed less sure, with shares down 1% on the back of the figures.

"Under the circumstances of difficult markets and adverse currency they look very good figures," said James Culverwell, an analyst at Merrill Lynch.

US lead

Glaxo's performance was particularly strong in the US, where sales rose 13%.

European sales were up 2%.

Glaxo said in constant currency terms, its earnings were up 13% but that the sterling figures had been held back by the weak dollar.

The drugmaker said it still expected growth of "high single digits" for 2003, before currency effects.

See also:

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