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Last Updated: Thursday, 28 July 2005, 15:28 GMT 16:28 UK
Strong results pep up drug makers
Worker in AstraZeneca laboratory
Hopes for new treatments continue to underpin shares in drug firms
Strong demand for medicines has lifted profits at pharmaceutical giants GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca.

First-half profits at AstraZeneca rose by 52% and it also announced that David Brennan, who heads its US unit, will become its new chief executive.

Mr Brennan will take up the post in January 2006 when current chief Sir Tom McKillop will retire.

Glaxo posted a 12% rise in half-year profits, with profits growth hit by production problems in the US.

AstraZeneca's shares closed trading up 5.6% at 2480p.

Development

We are happy about our financial performance
Jean-Pierre Garnier, GlaxoSmithKline chief executive

US sales growth for Glaxo's anti-depressant Paxil and diabetes drug Avandamet fell sharply when the drugs were pulled from the US market because of quality problems at a factory in Puerto Rico.

These problems have now been resolved and the drugs are back on the market.

Glaxo's figures were better-than-expected and growing hopes for a plethora of new drugs have raised earnings expectations for the second half of the decade.

"We are happy about our financial performance," said chief executive Jean-Pierre Garnier.

"But we are also, more importantly, very happy about the progress in the pipeline which, of course, will build up the growth and success of the company for years to come."

Half-year pre-tax profits rose to 3.37bn. Second quarter pre-tax profits rose to 1.66bn on the back of a 6% rise in sales to 5.25bn.

Sales boost

In addition to naming its new boss, AstraZeneca reported a hefty surge in first-half profits, driven by record sales of key products.

Strong sales growth and productivity gains have delivered an outstanding first half performance
Sir Tom McKillop, AstraZeneca chief executive

Half-year pre-tax profits at the Anglo-Swedish giant rose to $3.23bn (1.85bn) from $2.13bn for the same period a year ago.

Tight cost controls and strong sales of its schizophrenia drug Seroquel and anti-ulcer drug Nexium were behind the hefty profits increase, the company said.

"Strong sales growth and productivity gains have delivered an outstanding first half performance," said Sir Tom.

Second-quarter profits, meanwhile, rose to $1.74bn from $1.04bn, a 67% increase.




SEE ALSO:
FDA agreement lifts Glaxo shares
28 Apr 05 |  Business
GSK investors bring Paxil lawsuit
14 Apr 05 |  Business
New drugs fuelling AstraZeneca
22 Jul 04 |  Business
GSK aims to stop Aids profiteers
21 Feb 05 |  Business
AstraZeneca in $355m fraud fine
20 Jun 03 |  Business


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