UNITED KINGDOM — British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline that third-quarter net profit rocketed almost ten-fold to 10.3 billion pounds (US$11.5 billion) against the backdrop of the blockbuster spinoff of consumer healthcare unit Haleon.

After years of underperformance relative to its peers and missing out on the lucrative market for the first set of COVID-19 vaccines, GSK has delivered a string of strong results.

Earnings after taxation spiked in the three months to the end of September from 1.2 billion pounds (US$1.35 billion) a year earlier, due to a vast gain of 9.6 billion pounds (US$10.8) on the Haleon demerger, GSK said in a results statement.

The latest is led by a record quarter for its blockbuster shingles vaccine Shingrix and higher-than-expected revenue from its COVID therapy, Xevudy.

Shingrix generated quarterly sales of 760 million pounds (US$873 million), compared to the 685 million pounds (US$769.8 million) predicted by GSK-compiled analyst consensus, with sales rebounding as COVID pressures eased.

Xevudy easily outperformed expectations, earning 411 million pounds (US$ 461.89 million) in the quarter, far exceeding the GSK-compiled consensus of 60 million, aided by currency exchange movements that made those sales more profitable than analysts predicted.

However, the medication has fallen out of favor in the arsenal of COVID-19 therapies because Omicron and the variant’s most recent offshoots have likely rendered it obsolete.

Haleon became London’s biggest listing for more than a decade when it was spun off earlier this year.

The major strategy shift by GSK chief executive Emma Walmsley to focus on GSK’s core pharmaceuticals business comes after she faced intense activist shareholder pressure over its delays in producing Covid jabs and treatments.

GSK, which had owned 68 percent of Haleon with Pfizer holding the remainder, retained a six percent stake.

Haleon sells brands including Sensodyne toothpaste, pain relief drug Panadol and cold treatment Theraflu, as well as Centrum multivitamins and anti-inflammatory gel Voltaren.

The unit launched in July with a stock market capitalization of about £30 billion (US$33.7 billion). Glaxo meanwhile lifted its annual sales growth forecast to between eight and ten percent.

GSK has delivered another quarter of excellent performance, with strong growth in specialty medicines, record sales for our shingles vaccine, Shingrix, and further improvements in adjusted operating profit,” Walmsley said in the earnings release.

The London-listed pharmaceutical company is one of a few competing to develop a vaccine for the respiratory virus, which causes thousands of hospitalizations and deaths each year.

Given the complex molecular structure of the virus and safety concerns that have stymied protracted efforts to develop a vaccine, the shots are expected to generate billions of dollars in sales if approved.

GSK this year announced the acquisitions of US group Sierra Oncology, a specialist in medicines for rare forms of cancer, as well as US biopharmaceutical firm Affinivax.

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