GSK, AstraZeneca see virus-crisis boost

GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca beat predictions in the first quarter, as both pharma giants saw higher sales of some medicines due to the virus crisis.

At GSK turnover rose 19% to just over $11 billion.

Sales of its blockbuster shingles vaccine sold 23% above predictions.

Despite this GSK stuck to its 2020 forecast and expects a 1 to 4% fall in profit this year.

Rival AstraZeneca also stuck to its forecast for the year.

The drugmaker said sales have been helped by distributors stockpiling due to the virus.

It said revenues would increase by a high single-digit to a low double-digit percentage this year.

Both GSK and AstraZeneca are working on vaccines for the new virus.

The drugmakers have even worked together with Cambridge University to set up a testing lab.

Wednesday's (April 29) numbers confirm a strong period for drugmakers.

European rivals including Novartis, Roche and Sanofi have all reported stronger sales.