A DRUGS firm behind a £40m County Durham factory expansion has reported rising full-year sales and profits.

GlaxoSmithKline saw turnover rise three per cent at constant exchange rates to £30.2bn in 2017, while adjusted operating profit increased five per cent to £8.56bn.

The business, which runs a major manufacturing operation in Barnard Castle, County Durham, said its performance was helped by successful respiratory treatments and HIV products.

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Bosses added all three of the group's divisions - pharmaceuticals, vaccines and consumer healthcare - posted solid sales growth.

Speaking today (Wednesday, February 7), chief executive Emma Walmsley, who took the top job last year, said: “In 2017, we delivered encouraging results from across the company with sales growth in each of our three global businesses.

“With the sales momentum we anticipate from new and recent launches and focused improvements in operating performance, we are increasingly confident in our ability to deliver mid to high single digit growth in adjusted earnings per share.”

But Ms Walmsley, delivering her first set of full-year results, said forward guidance was dependent on the impact of a possible generic competition to the firm’s Advair asthma treatment in the US.

The company is adding a site to make and supply injectable liquids at its Barnard Castle base, which will provide treatments for HIV and respiratory and auto-immune diseases.

Bosses also previously unveiled a national £140m spending drive, with £20m earmarked for use at Barnard Castle to install an assembly and packing line for an asthma medicine, and £14m set aside to support manufacturing of a HIV treatment.

A further £5m has been allocated for assembly and packaging facilities to increase capacity to make a lupus drug.