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Drug giants are bullish on future

GlaxoSmithKline takes orders for 195m doses of its swine flu vaccine...<br /><br />PHARMA giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has taken 195m orders for its swine flu vaccine and is currently in talks with over 50 countries over stockpiling the drug, it said yesterday as it unveiled second quarter results.<br /><br />The firm will also ramp up production of its anti-viral flu drug, Relenza, which reduces the length and severity of the disease. It will now produce 190m doses in the next few months, up from a planned 60m doses.<br /><br />GSK chief executive Andrew Witty said he expected the demand for flu treatments to continue for some time and also announced a deal to supply vaccines to the US worth $250m.<br /><br />Despite the vaccine orders, shares in the drug maker fell by 0.56 per cent to 1153.50p due to poor sales, particularly in the US, its biggest market.<br /><br />While sales of flu-related products surged by 121 per cent to &pound;105m, total revenues fell two per cent at constant exchange rates to &pound;6.7bn. Profit before tax fell six per cent at constant exchange rates to &pound;2.3bn.<br /><br />The firm is suffering in the US, following tough competition from generic drug makers who are replicating GSK&rsquo;s products when its patents run out.<br /><br />Allowing for the fact that a strong US dollar flatters the firm&rsquo;s figures, second quarter pre-tax profit was up 12 per cent on revenues up 14 per cent.<br /><br />.... As Pfizer ups its profit forecasts for 2009 despite falling revenues<br /><br />US PHARMACEUTICAL giant Pfizer yesterday said its second-quarter profit fell 19 per cent to $2.3bn (&pound;1.4bn), after a strong dollar crimped its earnings.<br /><br />However, the group said it was upping its profit forecast for 2009 from $1.90 to $2.00 per share, thanks to a programme of swingeing cost cuts implemented by chief executive Jeffrey Kindler.<br /><br />Kindler has cut 14,000 jobs since 2007 and plans to eliminate another 19,000 to save around $2bn.<br /><br />Sales at the drugs firm fell nine per cent to $10.98bn but would have been flat if it weren&rsquo;t for the the fact that the strong dollar weakened the value of international sales, which accounted for 59 per cent of the firm&rsquo;s total revenues.<br /><br />Sales of its all-important cholesterol drug, Lipitor &ndash; which accounts for a quarter of revenues &ndash; fell by ten per cent in the quarter to $2.69bn thanks to the fact that the group will lose its patent for the medicine in 2011.<br /><br />Meanwhile, the group&rsquo;s $65.54bn acquisition of rival Wyeth &ndash; the biggest deal in industry this year &ndash; is expected to close later this year.<br /><br />Wyeth shareholders approved the takeover on Monday and the deal has been given the green light by European regulators.