Drugmaker warns sales will be flat for the year

GlaxoSmithKline warned that sales in 2012 would be flat as pressure on drug prices intensifies in Europe, due to government austerity measures aimed at curbing healthcare bills.

The worsening situation in Europe is a challenge for the drugmaker which had previously forecast a return to sales growth this year after putting patent expiries and a record-breaking mis-selling fine in the US behind it.

The company employs 370 people in Cork.

Chief executive Andrew Witty said he saw a delay in the company’s return to growth rather than a change in the shape of its future growth curve.

“It’s a question of timing — two or three quarters, if you will, being muted by the macro-economic effect of pricing in Europe,” he said.

Sales in Europe slumped 8% in the quarter, reflecting a 1% volume decline and an unprecedented 7% fall in prices. That year-on-year price decline might be at its worst point now, assuming there are no further shock moves by governments, Witty said.

Overall turnover was down 4% from a year ago at €8.24bn, generating “core” earnings per share down 5%.

Shares in the group fell 1.8% in trading.

“Like Europe itself, Glaxo continues to kick the can down the road,” said Keith Bowman, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown Stockbrokers.

GSK is taking further action to reduce costs and said it expected new manufacturing process improvements to generate annual cost savings of around €500m by the end of 2015.

Reuters

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