GlaxoSmithKline insists cost-cutting drive on track as Q1 profit falls a quarter

LONDON – Pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline has reported a 26 per cent drop in profits in the first quarter compared to a year ago, as it restructures its manufacturing and research and development divisions.

Its net profit dropped from 1.3 billion pounds ($1.9 billion) to 961 million pounds, while sales eased 2 per cent to 6.4 billion pounds.

Chief Executive Andrew Witty says Wednesday that the initial phase of its major change program was “progressing well,” and remains “on track” to deliver total annual savings of at least 1 billion pounds by 2016.

Witty says 2013 will be a key year for delivery on research and development, with an upcoming U.S. regulatory decision on the Breo Ellipta inhaler. Breo is a combination of two respiratory drugs which help open lung air passages and reduce swelling.