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GSK sales dip, cost-cutting to continue

Pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline reported a 5 percent drop in global sales for the third quarter and said it will continue reducing its operating costs.

Affirming its commitment to investors, GSK boosted its dividend by 6 percent.

Sales dipped to $10.3 billion after adjusting for currency fluctuations, the London-based company said Wednesday. Operating profit totaled just over $2.6 billion, down 18 percent. The figures were reported in British pounds and converted to U.S. dollars.

GSK said European markets are especially challenging but the company has plenty of momentum in developing countries, especially for its vaccine lines.


HIV drug being developed by GSK and others shows positive results

An experimental treatment for HIV being developed by GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer and Shionogi Co. reduced the virus in more patients than another treatment that is currently the top-selling AIDs medicine.

Eighty-eight percent of patients who took the drug, dolutegravir, saw the virus suppressed, compared to 81 percent of participants who took a single tablet regimen of Atripla, Gilead Sciences AIDs drug. Atripla generated $3.2 billion in revenue last year.

GSK and its partners announced the results for dolutegravir on Wednesday.
Dolutegravir was jointly created by Shionogi and GSK and while it was developed in the United States and the United Kingdom, where GSK is based, a significant amount of the work on the drug was done at its U.S. headquarters in Research

Triangle Park. The Medicine Development Leader for dolutegravir, Garrett Nichols, is based in RTP, said GSK spokeswoman Melinda Stubbee.

GSK has a long history with HIV treatments. The first AIDS pill, known as AZT, was developed by a GSK predecessor company, Burroughs-Wellcome.

GSK meningitis vaccine approved for use in U.S.

A new children's vaccine made by GlaxoSmithKline that targets two common causes of bacterial meningitis has been approved by federal regulators.

The MenHibrix vaccine is for children 6 weeks to 18 months old. The drug combines the vaccines for meningococcal disease and Hib disease. Both diseases can cause bacterial meningitis, which is an infection of the thin lining surrounding the brain and spinal cord. It can be fatal if untreated.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration rejected MenHibrix in 2010 and last year, but GSK has since resolved regulators' questions about the vaccine's potency.

GSK employs about  3,800 people in Resarch Triangle Park, where it has its U.S. headquarters and another 600 at a manufacturing facility in Zebulon.

The vaccines division behind MenHibrix is based in Belgium.

GSK drug Horizant wins approval for treatment of nerve pain syndrome

GlaxoSmithKline's drug Horizant has been approved by the Federal Drug Administration for treatment of nerve pain caused by shingles.

GSK and its partner XenoPort announced Thursday that Horizant has been approved for the treatment of adults suffering from a nerve pain syndrome called postherpetic neuralgia, or PHN.

Some shingles patients suffer from PHN after recovering from an outbreak of the disease. The syndrome can cause pain in the area where shingles occurred for months or even years afterward.

About 10 percent of the 1 million people who develop shingles in the U.S. each year develop PHN.

Horizant is also approved for the treatment of Restless Leg Syndrome in adults.

California-based XenoPort is entitled to a $10 million milestone payment from GSK after the first commercial sale of the drug.

GSK has about 3,800 workers at its North American headquarters in Research Triangle Park and 600 at its manufacturing plant in Zebulon.

Glaxo will make $13 per share offer to acquire Human Genome Sciences

GlaxoSmithKline announced Wednesday that it has made a tender offer to acquire Human Genome Sciences for $13 per share.

The offer represents an 81 percent premium over HGS' closing share price on April 17, which was the last day of trading before HGS publicly disclosed GSK's private offer for the company.

GSK's original unsolicited offer to buy HGS for $2.59 billion was rejected.

HGS has since begun what it calls a strategic alternatives review process, which GSK said Wednesday it will not participate in.

GSK and Human Genome collaborated on the lupus drug Benlysta, and they've partnered on two experimental medicines for diabetes and preventing heart attacks that are in the late stages of clinical trials.

"The reason why we're interested in the deal with Human Genome is to simplify our relationship on Benlysta, to drive the performance of Benlysta for the benefit of our shareholders and to take efficiency opportunities that we believe exist, " GSK CEO Andrew Witty said last month.

GSK has about 3,800 workers at its North American headquarters in Research Triangle Park and 600 at its manufacturing plant in Zebulon.

Pozen revenues drop in first quarter but still beat Wall Street estimates

Chapel Hill drug company Pozen reported a wider net loss in the first quarter as revenues totaled $1.3 million, down from $4.5 million in the first quarter of 2011.

That beat the consensus of three Wall Street analysts who cover the company, who had forecast $1.26 million.

Pozen reported a net loss of $8.4 million, or 28 cents per share, for the quarter, compared to $5.7 million, or 19 cents per share, during the same period a year ago.

The company attributed the larger loss to lower royalty payments from its Treximet, a migraine medication sold by GlaxoSmithKline. Most of Pozen's revenue comes from Treximet and its Vimovo arthritis pain reliever, sold by AstraZeneca.

Pozen also said in a statement that it continues to be optimistic about positive test results for the easier-to-stomach aspirin that it is developing.

The experimental drug, PA32540, combines aspirin and a gastrointestinal medicine. The drug is aimed at helping to prevent heart disease and stroke in patients who are susceptible to aspirin-induced ulcers.

The Food and Drug Administration has suggested Pozen also seek approval for a lower dose of the product.

Pozen shares, which opened Tuesday at $6.66, were down about 8 percent in early trading Tuesday. The stock is up 57 percent this year.

GSK joins global effort to fight tropical diseases

GlaxoSmithKline has joined an international effort to help eliminate sleeping sickness, leprosy, elephantiasis, blind trachoma and guinea worm in developing countries.

Those diseases and five others have been designated as neglected tropical diseases by the World Health Organization. The international group says they affect more than 1 billion people and have targeted them for elimination or control.

GSK CEO knighted

The next time Andrew Witty visits GlaxoSmithKline's Triangle headquarters be sure to call him Sir Andrew.

GSK's CEO was one of 984 people on the Queen's New Year's Honors List,  reports The Telegraph of London.

Witty received his knighthood for services to the economy and the United Kingdom's pharmaceutical industry. GSK is based in England. Industry and economy were the reasons given for honoring 12 percent of those on the list, according to the newspaper.

Witty became CEO of the pharma giant in 2008.

The honor caps a tough year for Witty as CEO. GSK had to pay out more than $3 billion in the United States over its marketing of the diabetes drug Avandia and another $1.6 billion to settle lawsuits over the drug which was linked to heart disease.

The BBC in noting the award pointed out that GSK had cut the amount it charges for vaccines around the world and that Witty has been "a keen promoter of GSK's work in developing a possible malaria vaccine."

Pozen stock up sharply after company sells future royalty payments for $75 million

Chapel Hill drug company Pozen's stock is up 40 percent in early trading today on news that the company has sold the U.S. royalty rights to one of its drugs for $75 million.

Pozen announced in a regulatory filing Wednesday that it has an agreement to sell the rights to MT 400, an experimental migraine drug, to CPPIB Credit Investments, a Canadian investment firm.

Pozen previously licensed the U.S. rights to MT 400 to GlaxoSmithKline, which markets a different dose of the drug as Treximet.

GSK reaches $3 billion Avandia settlement

GlaxoSmithKline announced today that it has reached a $3 billion settlement agreement with the federal government, which had been investigating the company's marketing of its diabetes drug Avandia.

GSK announced back in January that it was taking a $3.5 billion charge to cover expenses linked to investigations and suits over Avandia.

The British company, which has its North American headquarters in Research Triangle Park, has set aside more than $6 billion for legal costs tied to the drug, which has been linked to increased risk of heart attacks.

European regulators ordered Avandia off the market more than a year ago, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration restricted its use in the United States.

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