Glaxo beats expectations with boost from Covid treatment

A strong performance from its Covid antibody treatment helped drugs giant GlaxoSmithKline blast through expectations over the last three months.

The business turned over £9.8 billion in the first quarter, up 32% from the same period last year.

It was considerably ahead of the £9.2 billion experts had been expecting, and benefitted from good performances from the Covid drug and a shingles vaccine.

Sales of Xevudy, the Covid treatment, reached more than £1.3 billion over the quarter. Most of that came from the US, where the medicine reached a turnover of £770 million.

The medicine is given through a drip in hospital. It works by injecting a patient with artificial antibodies which stick to the virus.

Meanwhile sales of shingles vaccine Shingrix had dropped significantly during the pandemic a year ago when priority was given to dishing out Covid jabs.

Sales of Shingrix therefore bounced back in the first quarter of this year, more than doubling to £698 million.

Chief executive Emma Walmsley said: “Our results reflect further good momentum across specialty medicines and vaccines, including the return to strong sales growth for Shingrix and continuing pipeline progress.”

The business said it is on track to split from its consumer healthcare arm in July. The multibillion-pound company will be renamed Haleon.

“We have delivered strong first quarter results in this landmark year for GSK, as we separate consumer healthcare and start a new period of sustained growth,” Ms Walmsley said.

“We also continue to see very good momentum in consumer healthcare, demonstrating strong potential of this business ahead of its proposed demerger in July, to become Haleon.”

GSK reconfirmed its guidance for the rest of the year, saying it expects to grow sales by between 5% and 7%. Meanwhile adjusted operating profit is expected to grow between 12% and 14%.

The guidance “excludes any contribution from Covid-19 solutions”, GSK said.