GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK) says sales in China, where the company faces a bribery probe, have improved since the third quarter when revenue plunged 61 percent from a year earlier.

“The trend is definitely looking a bit more positive” since the quarter ended Sept. 30, Chief Financial Officer Simon Dingemans said in an interview in San Francisco at JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s health-care conference on Tuesday. “We can see the future opportunities to rebuild the business as and when we get to the other side of the inquiry. We’ll be working hard in 2014 to deliver that.”

Allegations by China’s government that Glaxo bribed hospitals, doctors and officials drove sales to some competitors with similar products, Chief Executive Officer Andrew Witty said in October. The London-based company has conducted a thorough review of its operations in other emerging markets and implemented additional anti-bribery controls and measures in higher-risk countries, Dingemans said.

“So far, we see this situation confined to China,” he said.

Glaxo received regulatory approval for five new drugs last year, which helped increase the shares 21 percent. The company will be focused on market introductions of those products as well as divesting older products, Dingemans said. Such disposals and reshaping of businesses, rather than large-scale acquisitions are likely to be an industry trend this year, he said.

“Focusing on what you’re good at is really what’s differentiating you, and that’s what we’ve been trying to do with our portfolio,” Dingemans said.

Glaxo last year sold its Lucozade and Ribena drinks brands to Suntory Beverage & Food Ltd. for 1.35 billion pounds as well as its injectable thrombosis brands to Aspen Pharmacare Holdings Ltd. for 700 million pounds.

In April, the company formed a Global Established Products portfolio of more than 50 older products such as the Zantac antacid, to separate them from its other growing products.

Merck-Glaxo Rotavirus Vaccines Show Slight Risk to Bowel

In other news, vaccines by Merck & Co. and GlaxoSmithKline Plc used to prevent severe diarrhea in infants may carry a slight risk of bowel blockage, two U.S. studies found. The findings weren’t serious enough to change recommendations for the vaccines’ use, researchers said Tuesday.

Cases of intussusception, a bowel disorder that may require surgery, were found in 1.5 of 100,000 recipients of Merck’s RotaTeq vaccine in a Food and Drug Administration study. A separate study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found five cases of intussusception of 100,000 infants given Glaxo’s Rotarix. Both studies were released online in the New England Journal of Medicine.

A 1999 withdrawal of Wyeth’s RotaShield, the first licensed rotavirus vaccine due to the product’s ties to intussusception, prompted U.S. health officials to be alert for the effect in vaccines from Merck and Glaxo. Today’s findings are similar to those seen in studies conducted outside the U.S. and suggest the benefits of the vaccines outweigh the risk, the CDC said.

“The CDC continues to recommend that all infants get the vaccine,” Frank DeStefano, director of the agency’s immunization safety office said in a phone interview.

GSK operates its North American headquarters in RTP.

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