GlaxoSmithKline moving forward with Ebola vaccine

October 22, 2014, 1:14 PM UTC
The headquarters of pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline is pictured in west London on July 29, 2013. AFP PHOTO / BEN STANSALL (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)
Photograph by Ben Stansall — AFP/Getty Images

GlaxoSmithKline, the UK’s largest drugmaker, reported its third quarter earnings Wednesday and revealed earnings that beat analysts’ estimates even as profits dipped, the company announced. Here’s what else you need to know about.

What you need to know: Glaxo (GSK) failed to post a profit gain after facing currency headwinds and slowing sales of its No. 1 drug Advair after it lost patent protection. The asthma medication is the company’s best-selling product, and it has been losing market share in the U.S. faster than the company anticipated. It’s two new respiratory drugs, Breo and Anoro, haven’t caught on as quickly as the company would like in order to replace slipping sales of Advair.

Glaxo said it will explore an initial public offering of ViiV Healthcare, a joint venture with Pfizer (PFE) and Shionogi that focuses on HIV drug development. The offering would sell a minority stake in the business, which would help “enhance future strategic flexibility,” the company said.

The big number: Profit, excluding select items, fell 1% to 1.89 billion pounds ($3 billion) or 27.9 pence (45 cents) per share. Analysts had expected the drugmaker’s profits to fall further to 24.1 pence (39 cents), according to Bloomberg data.

U.S. sales of Advair, the drug’s biggest market, were down 25% in the third quarter. Worldwide sales declined 13% in total to 976 million pounds ($1.6 billion).

What you might have missed: Glaxo has a promising Ebola vaccine in development and plans to expedite its testing and production.

“This is still at an early stage, but we are grateful for the support of all our partners, including the WHO, to expedite development of this candidate vaccine,” said Andrew Witty, CEO of Glaxo.

The vaccine is already in safety trials in the U.S., UK and Mali, and the results are expected by the end of the year. Previously, Glaxo said it would need six months to figure out how to produce hundreds of thousands of doses for distribution. Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) also has an Ebola vaccine in development that could be ready as soon as early next year. The two companies have discussed collaborating in order to bring any effective vaccine to market in a limited timeframe.