Glaxo focuses efforts on Covid-19 vaccine as stockpiling boosts sales

Drug giant GlaxoSmithKline has said developing a vaccine for Covid-19 is its “primary aim” as it reported a sales boost thanks to stockpiling amid the crisis.

The UK-headquartered pharmaceutical group has joined forces with a raft of partners around the world to develop a number of vaccines for the disease.

Its update showed pre-tax profits soared 42% to £1.84 billion in the first three months of the year on revenues 19% higher, helped by global stockbuilding of its drugs and healthcare products.

Rival AstraZeneca reported earlier on Wednesday that it had seen a jump in quarterly revenues and profits after benefiting from stockpiling in response to the pandemic.

Emma Walmsley, chief executive of Glaxo, said the group had “taken action to deploy our science and technologies” to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

She said: “Our primary aim is to develop multiple adjuvanted Covid-19 vaccines, and we are working with companies and institutions across the world to do so.”

It is also looking at so-called therapeutic options for coronavirus treatment and is collaborating with Vir Biotechnology to work on new antiviral antibodies that could be used for Covid-19 or future coronavirus outbreaks.

The firm is likewise looking at drugs in its stable that could be used as antivirals or to prevent or treat Covid-19 symptoms.

Its results showed pharmaceuticals turnover rose 6% in the quarter, while the vaccines arm saw growth of 19% and consumer healthcare – boosted after forming a joint venture with Pfizer’s consumer portfolio last year – posted an impressive 44% hike.

Glaxo plans to ultimately spin off the consumer business as a separately listed business.

“Our business performed strongly in the quarter with growth in sales and earnings reflecting good underlying performance and increased demand, including stock-building, for many of our products,” said Ms Walmsley.

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