British pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) beat first-quarter sales and earnings forecasts on Wednesday (April 27), helped by demand for its Covid-19 therapy and shingles vaccine, as the company moves towards the July separation of its consumer health business.

Profit after tax jumped 68 percent to £1.8 billion ($2.3 billion, 2.1 billion euros) compared with the start of 2021.

Sales climbed 32 percent to almost £9.8 billion.

“We have delivered strong first-quarter results in this landmark year for GSK, as we separate consumer healthcare and start a new period of sustained growth,” chief executive Emma Walmsley said in the earnings statement.

“Our results reflect further good momentum across speciality medicines and vaccines, including the return to strong sales growth for Shingrix and continuing pipeline progress.”

The shingles vaccine generated £698 million in quarterly sales, beating analyst estimates of 528 million.

Walmsley is seeking to reshape GSK after facing fierce investor criticism over the company’s delay in producing Covid jabs and treatments.

However in February, Canada approved a Covid-19 vaccine developed jointly by GSK and Canadian group Medicago.

The British company is meanwhile awaiting EU regulatory approval of its Covid-19 vaccine produced alongside French peer Sanofi.

Aside from Covid vaccines, GSK earlier this month agreed to buy US group Sierra Oncology for $1.9 billion.

GSK is also in the process of demerging its consumer healthcare arm Haleon — a joint venture with US peer Pfizer — to concentrate on its main pharmaceutical business.

After rejecting a bid worth £50 billion for the unit from consumer goods titan Unilever, GSK plans to list the newly-named Haleon on the London stock market.

GSK continues “to see very good momentum in consumer healthcare, demonstrating strong potential of this business ahead of its proposed demerger in July, to become Haleon“, Walmsley added on Wednesday.

The consumer unit’s products include Sensodyne toothpaste, pain relief drug Panadol and cold treatment Theraflu.

If you want to share your stories and/or experiences with us, please send an email to [email protected]