Mixed news on Johnson & Johnson today, too: Reporting its second-quarter results this morning, J&J announced a healthy 8 percent hike in net income on strong sales of its consumer products. The company also boosted its 2008 earnings forecast (for the second time) to $4.50 per share from $4.45. But that good news follows an FDA announcement late yesterday that it has "major concerns" about the company's application for a new indication on its antibiotic Doribax.
Let's look at the earnings first. Profits came in at $3.33 billion, up from $3.08 billion year-over-year; revenues rose 8.7 percent to $16.45 billion. EPS of $1.17 per share handily beat Wall Street estimates of $1.12. It was consumer products, though, that delivered the goods. Newly over-the-counter Zyrtec helped boost those sales by 13.2 percent. But pharma sales themselves only grew by 3.1 percent. The autoimmune drug Remicade saw its sales expand by 2 percent, which, though modest, certainly outclassed Procrit, the anemia drug, which fell by 14 percent. Sales of the antipsychotic Risperdal dropped 16 percent in advance of a quarter's-end generic competitor; we'll have to wait and see how that drug fares with full-on generic competition next quarter.
On Doribax, the FDA had been entertaining the antibiotic as a treatment for ventilator patients with pneumonia. Currently, the drug is OK'd for complicated urinary tract and intra-abdominal infections. The agency said that many patients in the study lacked convincing evidence that they had pneumonia. So, FDA says, it can't properly evaluate the efficacy of the drug for this use. The indication is up for discussion at an FDA advisory panel later this week, so we'll soon see what those experts think.