GlaxoSmithKline has reached its 2003 profit targets, but warned that rivals to two of its key anti-depressants could wipe out growth this year.
Rival drugs on the market could depress Glaxo's share price
Pre-tax profits for 2003 rose 8% to £6.72bn, with turnover up 5%, partly due to strong sales of its asthma drug.
But earnings in the fourth quarter dived by 24% as rivals to its antidepressant drug Paxil coupled with the weak dollar to hit revenues.
Further generic competition could wipe out growth this year, GSK warned.
A rival to the antidepressant drug Wellbutrin could also cast a dark cloud over Europe's biggest drugmaker this year.
"The first nine months will be challenging as we absorb the full erosion from Paxil and Wellbutrin generics," confirmed chief executive JP Garnier.
However, GSK said 2004 earnings, factoring out the impact of a further drop in the dollar, would be "at least in line" with 2003, with growth returning in the fourth quarter.
Glaxo also plans to boost research and development spending in 2004 and claims to have more than 20 potential $1bn-a-year new drugs in its development pipeline.
One of these drugs includes a promising new type of protease inhibitor to treat HIV infection, currently at the Phase 2 stage.