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A hard pill to swallow for Glaxo.

Pharmaceuticals giant GlaxoSmithKline said it had lost pounds 1.5 billion in sales to copies of its key drugs, yet still managed to grow the business in 2004.

Glaxo said sales of medicines over the 12 months to December 31 were one per cent higher than a year ago, despite sharp falls in demand for antidepressants Paxil and Wellbutrin.

However, the company admitted that it was not completely immune to setbacks faced by rivals AstraZeneca and Shire Pharmaceuticals.

Against the backdrop of tighter clinical controls and greater scrutiny of new drugs, GSK said it had reviewed its product liability position and had made a provision of pounds 141 million for any potential claims.

Pretax profits were two per cent higher for the firm, at pounds 6.12 billion, using constant exchange rates, but nine per cent lower after the impact of weakness in the US dollar was taken into account.

Mr Garnier said the company had come through 'a difficult year' and progress in developing new products meant it was looking forward to a good performance in 2005.

However, Glaxo disclosed that sales of Paxil fell 39 per cent to pounds 1.1 billion and revenues from Wellbutrin dropped 12 per cent to pounds 751 million as a result of cheaper versions of the drugs appearing on the market. Glaxo shares closed at 274 up 4p.
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Feb 11, 2005
Words:226
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