J&J plans 25 line extensions in next four years

Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) executives were touting the company's pipeline yesterday, drawing attention to the 10 new applications it expects to file in the next four years--some with blockbuster potential. But some analysts said what shouldn't be lost in the mix is that it also is planning 25 significant line extensions by 2017.

That foundation will provide a big boost to the drugmaker, especially in emerging markets, with drugs like its new-generation rheumatoid arthritis drug Simponi, cancer treatment Velcade and blood thinner Xarelto, according to a note from Leerink Swann Research. It points out that J&J ranks No.1 in sales from drugs launched between 2009 and 2013, and that it has 11 line extensions pending in the U.S. and Europe. In emerging markets, where it now gets 20% of its sales, line extensions should do particularly well, the research firm says.

As FierceBiotech points out, J&J has an aggressive plan for the Pacific Rim for new drug applications but also line extensions. It has three brand line extensions in registration in Japan, while its Janssen unit is preparing to to file 6 brand line extensions by 2017. In China, there are four line extensions currently in registration, and Janssen has 6 brand line extensions planned there by 2017.

The anticoagulant Xarelto is a good example of what J&J has done with line extension. In November, the anticoagulant won European approval to treat and prevent pulmonary embolism and to prevent deep vein thrombosis. It's the first warfarin-alternative drug to win these indications, giving it an edge over its rival Pradaxa. Earlier that month, the FDA had also approved it for those uses. J&J shares the drug with Bayer, which last year saw sales of the drug grow 265% to €322 million as it was launched in new markets around the world.

Johnson & Johnson just this month got approval for Simponi for the treatment of ulcerative colitis. The drug, which J&J developed as a follow-up to its top-selling autoimmune therapy Remicade, could leap to blockbuster status with the help of this new indication, analysts have said. Remicade is itself approved for ulcerative colitis, and it brought in $6.1 billion last year, making it J&J's best seller. Simponi's $607 million in sales are obviously small by comparison, but analysts now figure it could hit $1.2 billion by 2016.

- here's the press release
- read the FierceBiotech story

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