GSK has reported a pre-tax profit of £1.94bn for last year, a drop from £10.53bn in 2015. Revenue rose to £27.89bn, up from £23.92bn.

GSK has a plant in Ulverston and is one of Furness' largest employers with more than 300 staff. It has committed to building a new £350m biopharm drugs facility in the town.

The dip in profits has been put down to the sale of its oncology business as part of a deal with Swiss firm Novartis in 2015, which meant that year's profits were exceptionally high.

Sir Andrew Witty, the company's chief executive, said: "Our performance reflects the investments we have made to build new scale and sustainability in the group and to develop new products."

He expected this momentum to continue into 2017 but warned that there was a challenge ahead linked to possible competitors to Advair, an asthma drug produced by the firm, hitting the market in the USA.

He said: "Clearly, this year we face some uncertainty as to the level of our earnings performance, given the possibility of substitutable generic competition to Advair in the US and this is reflected in the guidance we have issued today.

"This event is something we have anticipated and prepared for, and while there will be an inevitable financial impact to absorb, we fully expect to maintain leadership in this therapy area given our new product portfolio and the innovation we have in our pipeline."

Sir Andrew stressed that the next two years would be important for the company. He said: "The next 24 months will be significant for GSK's pipeline and it marks the start of another intense period of R&D activity for the company, as we expect important data read-outs on around 20-30 assets in HIV, respiratory, immuno-inflammation, oncology and vaccines."

This is the last set of results from GSK with Sir Andrew at the helm before he hands over the chief executive role to Barrow-born Emma Walmsley in March.

He said: "This quarter marks the last I will report to shareholders after nearly 10 years as chief executive officer and more than 30 years as an employee.

"GSK is a very special company that touches people's lives across the world and I feel enormously privileged to have had the opportunity to lead it. I would like to thank all of GSK's employees, partners and shareholders for their support to build a company that delivers strong financial performance and meaningful contributions to society."

GSK also published "core results" alongside its "total results". These did not contain "unusual or non-operational items that may obscure the key trends and factors determining the group's operational performance" such as restructuring costs, legal charges and some accounting adjustments.

Using the core results GSK's pre-tax profit was £7.8bn.

Shares in GSK fell in afternoon trading following the publication of the results.