Even with sales and profits declining sharply from a year ago, a cut in a growth forecast for this year and continuing legal issues resulting from a criminal investigation in China, GSK’s (NYSE: GSK) chief executive officer Andrew Witty puts a positive spin on the state of the company in a video interview.

“We’re making significant progress,” he says in a transcript of the video that GSK provided as part of its earnings announcement Wednesday.

Witty does not mention the China investigations, although the company did include a statement in which it said the financial impact, if any, of the various probes could not be estimated. 

However, in the earnings report issued Wednesday, GSK noted that sales in China fell some 20 percent and CNBC reported that Witty remains “committed” to China.

In the video interview, Witty cites GSK’s recently announced asset swap with Novartis and the launch of new products as reasons for being positive. (The full video along with a discussion of finances by CFO Simon Dingemans, can be viewed online.)

The full transcript follows:

Q: Clearly there’s been a lot going on in the year. How do you feel your strategy is working for you?

A: Well I think at a strategic level we’re making significant progress on a journey that’s been underway now for six or seven years. So from an R&D portfolio perspective, we’ve seen excellent progress, both in terms of the development of opportunities from our discovery organization, with around 40 new molecular entities now in our advanced development pipeline, significant opportunities for multiple new approvals over the next four, five, six, seven, ten years. Just over the next seven or eight years we’d expect maybe two-thirds of those opportunities to be possible first-in-class medicines or vaccines. That looks very, very encouraging from our core pharmaceutical perspective.

And then with the proposed transaction that we announced earlier in the year with Novartis, that’s given us an extremely – almost unique –
opportunity to reshape the Group. To strengthen our already existing leadership position in vaccines and to really build up what will be one of the world’s leaders in consumer healthcare.

Those two businesses, the Vaccines and Consumer Healthcare, should, after the transaction, represent about half of the Group. I think after the transition, integration if you will, I would expect those businesses to be capable of growing at something around the mid single-digit level. You combine that with that opportunity of the pharmaceutical R&D platform, the shape of the Group, which will really be the Group for the next decade or longer, is really finally becoming very, very clear.

And, of course, the challenge for us is that transition into that phase because what we know is also happening is the product which has really been pivotal to the Group over the last decade, Advair/Seretide is obviously now very mature and facing more and more competition. And therefore, as that product starts to move into its phase of decline, which is now becoming clear – and I think during the first half of this year we’ve seen that increased competition – we’d expect that competition to continue.

What we need to be very clear about is making sure we’re making the right decisions for the long-term future of the Group and not simply for the short term. And that’s why we’ve made the choices we have, particularly in this quarter, to continue to invest behind those six new
medicines that we’ve just launched in the last 12 months, including of course the very important ones in respiratory, which we expect to be the vehicle through which we can, over the longer run, continue to build up our respiratory market leadership.

So the strategy has really crystallized through the transaction and through the R&D delivery over the last six or twelve months. The reality of course is that that is what will underpin the long-term value creation for the Company. And what’s critical is we stay focused on that and we make sure that we make the choices to invest behind those aspects of the business which will drive that long-term performance, and that’s exactly what we’re doing and that’s what you’ve seen during this quarter.