A DRUGS company has reiterated its commitment to bringing wonder vaccines to the North-East.

GlaxoSmithKline, in Barnard Castle, County Durham, says it will keep challenging the firm's global bases to develop new products.

The company employs about 1,000 North-East workers at its regional plant, which is the headquarters of its skin division and includes a £20m dermatology centre of excellence.

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Its factory also makes antibiotics and liquid fillings for injections and nasal sprays, and previously produced about 130 million doses of the H1N1 vaccine to treat swine flu.

A spokesman told The Northern Echo: “We are constantly working on new lines as they come in.

“In some cases, it is too early to say if we are looking to bring work here.

“But we are competing with other factories in the company to get drugs and develop them.”

The vow came after the group revealed it had returned to modest revenue growth after two years of falling sales.

Bosses also hailed the best year for research and development in the firm's history, with five new drugs for respiratory disease, melanoma and HIV approved, and 10 medicines undergoing clinical trials.

The group's revenue recovery came despite a heavy impact in China, which saw pharmaceutical and vaccine sales fall 18 per cent in the country over the year.

The firm has been under pressure after it emerged last year that Chinese authorities were investigating bribery by staff, which allegedly saw as much as £324m paid through travel agencies and consultancies to doctors and health officials to boost sales and raise prices.

However, Sir Andrew Witty, Glaxo chief executive, said the situation was stabilising.

He said: “We delivered the most productive period of research and development in our history and led the sector for new medicine approvals.

“Looking further ahead, we will continue to make changes to our business, including how we work with customers and invest in technologies.

“These changes are vital in an industry with a 20-year business cycle and which operates in an environment as dynamic and as challenging as global healthcare.”