GlaxoSmithKline sees fourth-quarter sales fall

GlaxoSmithKline Image copyright AFP
Image caption GSK is one of the world's biggest drug producers

Pharmaceuticals giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has reported a drop in fourth-quarter sales as demand for its asthma drug Advair remains weak.

Fourth-quarter sales were 8% lower than a year earlier at £6.19bn. GSK also reported pre-tax profits of £2.97bn for 2014, down from £6.6bn a year earlier.

GSK said that it expected to regain market share in respiratory medicine.

The company added it expected adverse "headwinds" in the first half of 2015 but a better second half of the year.

GSK hopes a deal with Novartis - which involves swapping assets and combining their consumer health units - will help to revive its fortunes.

Novartis is to acquire GSK's cancer drugs business and sell its vaccines division, excluding the flu unit, to GSK.

The deal is due to close in the first half of 2015. GSK said it expected £4bn of net proceeds from the dealt to be returned to shareholders this year.

GSK is also considering floating its HIV unit ViiV Healthcare. "We continue to evaluate options for a potential IPO of a minority stake in this business and expect to provide an update to shareholders at the Q2 2015 results," the company said.

Following the release of its results, GSK shares rose 1.6% to 1476p.

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