RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – Drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline says third-quarter earnings fell 14.4% as disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic reduced sales of vaccines, antibiotics and consumer healthcare products. But CEO Emma Walmsley remains optimistic.

“GSK has responded well to a challenging operating environment this year with disciplined cost control and strong commercial momentum in key growth products including Nucala, Trelegy, Benlysta, 2 drug-HIV regimens, Zejula, Shingrix and our priority Consumer Healthcare brands,” she said in a statement.

“This, combined with improving vaccination rates this quarter, means we are on track to deliver within our earnings guidance range for 2020.
In addition, we continue to make good progress on our preparations to separate the Group and create two new companies – in Biopharma and Consumer Health – which we believe will deliver options for sustainable growth and returns to shareholders.”

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The company (NYSE: GSK) said Wednesday that pretax profit dropped to 1.67 billion pounds ($2.16 billion) from 1.95 billion pounds in the same period last year. Net income fell 19.8% to 1.24 billion pounds.

Vaccine sales dropped 12% as a decline in adult wellness visits cut demand for GSK’s Shingrix shingles vaccine, the company said. The pandemic also cut new patient prescriptions for allergy medicines and antibiotics, leading to a 7% decline in pharmaceutical sales. Sales of over-the-counter products dropped 4% as fewer customers visited pharmacies.

GSK says the “pandemic has impacted group performance, particularly in the vaccines business, during the first nine months of 2020.”

However, it said that it has seen “a recovery in vaccination rates, including adult immunization rates in the United States returning to prior year levels in the last month of the quarter.”

GSK maintains significant operations in the Triangle and a manufacturing plant in Zebulon.

Read the full earnings report online.