Johnson & Johnson's ($JNJ) first-quarter sales may have taken a hit, but its prescription drugs business actually grew, thanks to overseas growth and recently launched products. And that's in spite of generic competition for the antibiotic Levaquin--which drove U.S. sales down to $18 million from $422 million last year--and problems supplying the cancer drug Doxil.
The prostate cancer pill Zytiga was among those new contenders, with $200 million in global sales, half of that in the U.S. The new anti-inflammatory drug Stelara grew by almost 35% to $221 million. Other fast-growing products included the blood cancer drug Velcade, which brought in $353 million, a 29% increase. Oncology drugs overall grew by 38.5% to $596 million, despite the $100 million-plus hit on Doxil availability.
Total drug sales growth, however, depended on a strong international performance. U.S. sales were down by 10.8% to $3.026 billion, but overseas, the company racked up a 19.6% increase to $3.1 billion.
Outside of pharma, J&J's consumer drugs suffered, held back by the still-idled plant in Fort Washington, PA, which has been suspended for overhaul since April 2010. Ongoing fixes and improvements put a damper on production volumes at other plants as well, the company said. The McNeil consumer unit is still trying to recover from a long series of product recalls as it makes improvements to plants operating under an FDA consent decree.