J&J pharma growth drives big increase in Q1 sales, profits

Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) unveiled a street-beating set of first-quarter earnings. The drug and device maker posted net profits of $3.5 billion on sales of $17.5 billion, a year-over-year increase of 8.5%. The U.S. market carried much of that load, with an 11.2% sales hike. But the acquisition of orthopedic device maker Synthes gave sales another big boost; it accounted for 5.7% of worldwide sales growth.

Looking at J&J's pharma operations specifically, overall drug sales grew 10.4%, including currency adjustments. U.S. sales alone grew an impressive 14.7%. Sales-wise, the company's top performer was still the anti-inflammatory drug Remicade, with $1.6 billion. But other drugs turned in bigger increases, namely the long-acting antipsychotic drug Invega Sustenna, which grew by 76% to $284 million worldwide. Stelara, a newer anti-inflammatory drug approved to treat psoriasis, grew by 75% in the U.S., delivering global sales of $346 million.

But it's Zytiga that really stands out, with $344 million in first-quarter sales. That's up from $200 million year-over-year, an increase of 72%. And it's up from $264 million in the fourth quarter of 2012. First approved in April 2011 as a second-line treatment for late-stage prostate cancer, Zytiga won a big label expansion in December. It's now approved for first-line attack on metastatic prostate cancer. This is its first full quarter with the new indication.

Analysts have said that first-line use could actually double Zytiga sales. The drug has new competition in the form of Medivation's pill Xtandi, however. Hotly anticipated ahead of approval--when it was known as MDV3100--it's been pegged as an eventual blockbuster, with up to $2 billion in sales.

On the consumer health side of the business, J&J managed to increase sales by 2.2%, as it continues to struggle to get recalled OTC drugs back on the market. Thanks to the reappearance of some Tylenol and Motrin products, and strong performances from Neutrogena skin care and Listerine mouthwash, the division brought in $3.7 billion. J&J pulled millions of packages and bottles of consumer meds in 2010, including signature product lines like Tylenol and Motrin, because of quality-control and manufacturing problems. It's now operating under a consent decree with the FDA, and it's still working to return its troubled Fort Washington, PA, plant to full production. Meanwhile, the company is fighting thousands of lawsuits on the device side of its business, after recalls of faulty hip implants. Earlier this month, J&J pulled a line of insulin pumps on worries about hypoglycemia.

"We delivered solid first quarter results led by the success of many of our recently launched pharmaceutical products," CEO Alex Gorsky said in a statement. "Also of note is the growth in our over-the-counter medicines business as we continue to make progress in returning a reliable supply of high quality products to our customers."

- read the J&J release
- check out FierceMedicalDevices' take on J&J's sluggish med tech business

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