Listed as number three in pharma sales, GlaxoSmithKline has had some rough luck thanks in part to the diabetes drug Avandia, which has been pulled out of Europe and restricted in the U.S after global side effect concerns since 2007. The company cut its losses on the drug, writing off $233 million in supplies and eliminating its marketing efforts of the drug.

The company has racked up some charges against its earnings, including over $6 billion in the fourth quarter of 2010 from Avandia and marketing settlements. GSK settled 10,000 Avandia lawsuits for a combined $460 million. Also, the company hit number three on FiercePharma's Top Layoffs of 2010 list with 5,201 jobs lost. While other companies look towards more spinoffs, GSK has focused on emerging markets as its ticket to higher revenue. It purchased Laboratorios Phoenix in 2009 and China's MeiRui in 2010; the UK-based company said the impact of its layoffs would be masked by more job opportunities in Asia and South America.

In early 2011, GSK and Human Genome Sciences gained FDA approval for Benlysta, the first new lupus treatment in more than 50 years, and experts believe it could be a $3 billion to $5 billion worldwide sales heyday for the partnership. But the FDA denied an extended approval and a potential $1 billion in sales to GSK from the prostate drug Avodart. While the drug was effective against low-risk malignant tumors, it potentially heightened the risk of developing more aggressive tumors.

GSK spun off its HIV treatments into ViiV Healthcare in 2009, combining it with Pfizer's former R&D efforts in the field. ViiV markets Ziagen, Trizivir, Epzicom and abacavir as part of its suite of drugs for HIV/AIDS.

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