The fall of the British pound continues to buoy global earnings for GlaxoSmithKline, the nation’s largest drugmaker, which Wednesday reported an 8 percent boost in worldwide sales and a 13 percent boost in its operating profit.
GSK is one of the Triangle’s largest employers, with 2,600 employees and contractors at the company’s North American headquarters in Research Triangle Park and about 800 at its manufacturing facility in Zebulon.
GSK posted $10.1 billion in sales for the third quarter, a core operating profit of $3.1 billion and an operating profit of nearly $2 billion, beating the analyst consensus compiled by Bloomberg.
New product sales were up 79 percent to about $1.7 billion, a key measure of the company’s future prospects as competitors push out alternative treatments and GSK patents expire on legacy drugs that can be replaced by cheaper generics.
Advair, the asthma inhaler, continues to be GSK’s top seller by a wide margin, posting $1.1 billion in revenue in the third quarter. GSK’s future earnings factor in the expected introduction of a generic competitor to Advair in 2017, which will likely mark the end of GSK’s dependency on that blockbuster medication. Advair is manufactured and packaged in Zebulon.
Sales also got a boost from new HIV drugs Tivicay and Triumeq, which were up 70 percent year-over-year and together accounted for nearly $1 billion in third-quarter global sales.
This was the first full quarter since the Brexit vote in June for United Kingdom to withdraw from the European Union. The depreciation of the British Pound boosted GSK’s sales by 15 percent and added 27 percent to core earnings per share because a higher proportion of the company’s costs were in British currency compared to revenue from other countries, the company said.
GSK comprises three business units: pharmaceuticals, vaccines and consumer healthcare. The company had employed more than 5,000 in the Triangle in 2015 but mostly eliminated R&D functions here and implemented other staff reductions after a $20 billion asset swap with Novartis.