Glaxo Raises Full Year Forecast on Shingles Vaccine Demand

(Bloomberg) -- GlaxoSmithKline Plc, the U.K.’s largest drugmaker, raised its projection for 2018 profit growth on expectations for brisk sales of its new shingles vaccine.

Adjusted earnings per share will increase 7 percent to 10 percent this year if no generic competitor to its Advair asthma drug hits the U.S. market, Glaxo said in a statement Wednesday. The company had earlier said that earnings would accelerate as much as 7 percent this year in the absence of Advair competition.

Glaxo is seeking to boost sales from new drugs such as the Shingrix vaccine as the company faces potential headwinds this year with a copycat version of the asthma medicine coming to the U.S. and increasing competition in the market for HIV drugs. Chief Executive Officer Emma Walmsley wants to strengthen the pharma pipeline, narrowing the focus on the best prospects and culling the least promising programs. She’s relying on her new research head, Hal Barron, to shake up the labs and develop the next multibillion-dollar blockbusters.

The company said today that it’s acquiring a $300 million stake in 23andMe Inc. and forming a partnership with the genetic-testing company as the U.K. drugmaker races to catch up with rivals in developing multibillion-dollar blockbusters.

The new approach to research and development “aims to capitalize on the assets we have in our promising early-stage pipeline and build the next wave of growth for GSK,” Walmsley said in the statement.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.