A DRUGS firm is celebrating business success after recording ten per cent growth on the prior financial year.

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) which has a factory on Harmire Road, in Barnard Castle, said it had made £33,754m turnover at the end of 2019 with business leaders hailing its ‘excellent progress’.

The firm is one of the region’s largest employers and has recently joined forces with a fellow pharmaceutical company to develop a vaccine in the fight against coronavirus.

GSK said the new collaboration with French company, Sanofi, marked a significant milestone in GSK’s and Sanofi’s ongoing contributions to help fight coronavirus.

It will contribute its pandemic adjuvant technology to the collaboration whilst Sanofi will deliver its S-protein Covid-19 antigen, which is based on recombinant DNA technology.

The companies plan to initiate phase one of clinical trials in the second half of 2020 and if successful and subject to regulatory considerations, aim to complete the development required for availability by the second half of 2021.

The firm said the collaboration is part of its ‘good performance’ and said the sales growth reflects strong underlying performance and additional impact from increased demand including stock building for many products.

In the fight against coronavirus, its scientists are also working with international organisations including the World Health Organization (WHO), Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and governments worldwide.

Emma Walmsley, chief executive officer of GSK said: “GSK delivered a good performance in 2019 with growth in sales and earnings, together with strong cash generation.

“We also made excellent progress in all three of our long-term priorities, innovation, performance and trust, strengthening our pipeline, improving operational execution and reshaping the company.

“In 2020, our first priority remains innovation, to progress our pipeline and support new product launches. Recent data readouts underpin our decision to further increase investment in research and development and these new products.

"At the same time, we are again focused on operational execution, including delivering a successful integration in consumer healthcare, and we are also preparing for the future, starting a new two-year programme to get GSK ready for separation.

“All of this aims to support future growth, deliver significant value creation, and set up two new leading companies in biopharma and consumer healthcare, each with the opportunity to improve the health of hundreds of millions of people.”

Recordings said vaccines turnover grew 21 per cent to £7,157m, primarily driven by growth in sales of Shingrix.

Meningitis vaccines also contributed to growth mainly due to Bexsero demand and share gains in the United States together with stronger demand in international produects.

Established vaccines revenue grew two per cent to £3,788m, reflecting growth in Boostrix, Hepatitis, Synflorix and Infanrix/Pediarix, partly offset by lower Cervarix sales in international and supply constraints in MMRV vaccines.