Remicade is ready to fend off biosim No. 2, Johnson & Johnson executives say amid Q2 revenue miss

Johnson & Johnson’s Remicade is holding its own against a U.S. biosimilar rival—so much so, the company says, that it’s not worried about a second entrant, which could arrive later this year.

While second-quarter sales of the blockbuster sank about 14% year-over-year to $1.35 billion, falling about $96 million short of analyst estimates, J&J blamed the miss on rebate accruals in the year-ago quarter. Factor those out, and Remicade is “down only about 5%,” CFO Dominic Caruso said on the company's second-quarter earnings call, adding that the shortfall is “much lower than us or any of you had expected” in the face of competition from Pfizer copy Inflectra.

Plus, only a piece of that 5% stemmed from market-share losses, Caruso said. There’s also impact from pricing, as well as patient-switching from Remicade to J&J’s Stelara in Crohn’s disease.

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With that in mind, J&J isn’t too concerned about Samsung’s Renflixis, a second biosim approved by the FDA in April. For one, it’s still unclear when the product will launch. Samsung hasn't announced a price, either. And with managed care contracts already in place for the coming year, “we feel pretty good that Remicade erosion overall, even with the entrant of a new biosimilar, will be less than we previously expected,” he said.

Of course, the New Jersey drugmaker isn’t relying solely on Remicade to keep its autoimmune portfolio in check. Stelara's $983 million in sales beat consensus by $76 million as the drug grew its share in the overall immunology market by 1.4 points over 2016’s second quarter.

Plus, there's Tremfya, approved just last week. With only about a quarter of the psoriasis population now using next-gen treatments, CEO Alex Gorsky said there’s room for the brand-new med Tremfya to make a splash despite its trio of new-age rivals. The company also has rheumatoid arthritis med sirukumab coming up the pipeline.

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“It does represent, again, a portfolio approach, and we think that’s why we’re especially prepared to mange through the Remicade biosimilars,” Gorsky told investors.

That portfolio will join cancer standouts Imbruvica and Darzalex, among other products, in propelling the company to a strong second half of the year, J&J predicts.

Tuesday, despite unveiling second-quarter sales of $18.8 billion that narrowly missed Wall Street's estimates, it raised the lower end of its 2017 revenue guidance to $75.8 billion to from $75.4 billion. The company tweaked EPS guidance, too, upping its range to $7.12 to $7.22 from a previous $7.00 to $7.15.