Revenues 2012: £26.431 billion (about $39.925 billion)
Revenues 2011: £27,387 billion (about $41.368 billion)

It was a struggle for GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) to land on the list where it did. Partly that was because for several months its attention was focused on its $3 billion takeover battle for partner Human Genome Sciences--a particularly ugly, public fight. 

That buyout gave GSK full rights to the lupus treatment Benlysta, a drug that has yet to live up to expectations, and a couple of other pipeline products. It did nothing, however, for GSK's standing with investors. The company ended the year as the worst stock performer among the top 10 in Big Pharma, with a stock price off more than 9%, when peers were outperforming stock indices. 

CEO Andrew Witty

It cut revenue estimates last year and failed to hit its earnings projections in three quarters. A 7% revenue drop in Europe led CEO Andrew Witty to say GSK must squeeze out £1 billion ($1.57 billion) of its annual spending there by 2016, focusing on making R&D and manufacturing more efficient. The fall-off in Europe was also hard on the CEO's compensation. HIs performance pay dropped to £2.81 million for 2012, down from £5.743 million in 2011. That's about $4.24 million and $8.6 million, respectively. His total compensation came in at £3.89 million ($5.86 million), down from £6.78 million. 

Glaxo's vaccine unit, which EvaluatePharma has said will top the list of vaccine sellers by 2018, turned in about $5 billion in revenues for the year, while GSK reported consumer health sales of about $7.6 billion. It is pushing its consumer biz in emerging markets, investing more than $1 billion to boost its stake in its Indian consumer products affiliate to 75% from about 43%, and it's increasing ownership at a similar unit in Nigeria to 80%.

Witty has promised this year is the turning point, saying GSK's vaunted pipeline and lineup of new meds under regulatory review will make the difference. The company has filed for approval of 6 drugs since last year, including the inhaled asthma and COPD drug Breo, and a pair of melanoma drugs known as trametinib and dabrafenib. 

With data from late-stage studies of 14 assets expected over the next two years, GSK-watchers are in for a wild ride. Witty has suggested as much. "There will be lots of moments where I'm going to be very nervous, you're going to be very interested and we'll see how we both feel in the morning," he recently told analysts. 

Philippe Lanone, an analyst at Natixis Securities in Paris, put it more bluntly to Bloomberg, saying this was a make it, break it year for Glaxo. "If the new products fail to make it, the company will be in big trouble." 

For more:
After dismal 2012, this is a make-it or break-it year for GSK
GSK touts expectations for 14 late-stage pipeline drugs
GSK spotlights PhIII heart, cancer blockbuster hopefuls in late-stage R&D review
GSK, Amarin could suffer as fish oil pills lose their sheen


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