Pharma Sales Drive J&J’s First Quarter


By Alex Keown


Johnson & Johnson reported a strong first quarter with $20 billion in sales that was fueled by significant growth in its pharmaceuticals business.

About half of the healthcare giant’s quarterly sales was driven by the company’s pharma business. In its quarterly report, the healthcare giant said pharmaceutical sales generated $9.8 billion in the first quarter. That was an increase of 19.4 percent over the same period last year. The bulk of the company’s pharma sales were made overseas, according to the data. J&J said international sales increased by 33.1 percent and domestic sales increased 9.9 percent.

The company noted that strong sales were driven by drugs such as Darzalex (daratumumab), a treatment for multiple myeloma, Tremfya (guselkumab) a treatment for moderate to severe plaque psoriasis and blood-cancer treatment Imbruvica (ibrutinib). During the first quarter J&J filed a supplemental New Drug Application for Imbruvica as a treatment for Waldenström’s macroglobulinemia.

Johnson and Johnson noted other strong-performing drugs including Zytiga (abiraterone acetate), which is used for the treatment of metastatic, castration-resistant prostate cancer. During the quarter Zytiga gained approval for an additional indication as at treatment of metastatic high-risk castration-resistant prostate cancer. Two other strong performers included inflammatory disease treatment Stelara (ustekinumab) and the anti-blood clotting drug Xarelto.

Also, during the first quarter, J&J gained approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for Erleada, an oral androgen receptor inhibitor for the treatment of patients with non-metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer.

Johnson & Johnson noted that the pharmaceutical business gained a 7.6 percent boost from the company’s 2017 $30 billion acquisition of Swiss-based Actelion, which manufactures Tracleer, a drug used to treat pulmonary arterial hypertension a form of high blood pressure in the arteries of the lungs. While J&J saw an increase in earnings from the deal, the company noted that it discontinued development of one of the drug candidates picked up in that acquisition. In its earnings report, J&J said it terminated development of cadazolid, a Phase III program for the treatment of clostridium difficile-associated diarrhea. Months after the deal was announced Actelion disclosed that cadazolid saw mixed results in two identical studies. The drug hit the mark in reducing diarrhea in patients in one study but failed to do so in a joint-study.

Alex Gorsky, chief executive officer of Johnson & Johnson, said the company’s pharmaceutical business delivered robust returns for the company.

In addition to its strong pharma showing, J&J said its medical device business saw sales of $6.8 billion for the first quarter, which represented an increase of 7.5 percent over the prior year.

Not only did J&J see strong revenues from its pharma business, Gorsky added that the company is also benefitting from a revamping of U.S. tax laws. He said the new legislation that reduced corporate tax rates in the United States will allow the company to invest more than $30 billion in research and development, as well as capital investments over the next four years. Gorsky said that investment is an increase of 15 percent over the previous four years.



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