Drugs giant GSK continues to cash in on popular shingles vaccine

Pharmaceuticals giant GSK has seen a surge in sales thanks to continued strong growth of its shingles vaccine.

Bosses revealed that sales of the company’s Shingrix vaccine hit £1.8 billion during 2019, with particularly encouraging results in the US.

But the business said it has not yet worked out the potential impact of the coronavirus, and has excluded it from forecasts for the year ahead.

GSK chief executive Emma Walmsley said excellent progress had been made on her three targets of innovation, performance and trust.

“In 2020, our first priority remains innovation, to progress our pipeline and support new product launches,” she said.

“Recent data readouts underpin our decision to further increase investment in R&D (research and development) and these new products.

“At the same time, we are again focused on operational execution, including delivering a successful integration in consumer healthcare, and we are also preparing for the future, starting a new two-year programme to get GSK ready for separation.”

The company is in the process of splitting its prescription drugs and vaccines into one division, with a separate one for over-the-counter products.

Bosses also highlighted strong growth for its Nucala asthma treatment and GSK’s once-daily Trelegy inhaler for treating chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Total respiratory sales hit £3.08 billion for the year, with £518 million from Trelegy and £768 million from Nucala.

They helped GSK record overall sales of £33.8 billion last year, up 10% on a year earlier, with pre-tax profits up 25% to £1.7 billion.

On the coronavirus, the company said the year ahead is expected to see a 1% to 4% fall in earnings per share – the company’s preferred measure.

It added: “This guidance excludes any impact in 2020 from … any potential impact on our business from the coronavirus outbreak.”