Turbocharged pharma growth drives J&J's 2013 sales to $71B

You know all those drugmakers promising a return to growth? Johnson & Johnson has them beat. The healthcare company ($JNJ) kicked off pharma's year-end earnings season with overall sales growth of 6.1%--fueled, once again, by even bigger growth in its pharma business.

J&J's prescription drugs revenue pumped up by 10.9% for the full year, to $28.1 billion, thanks to hot-trotting older drugs such as the rheumatoid arthritis med Remicade and HIV treatment Prezista, and new products such as the prostate cancer therapy Zytiga.

Alex Gorsky

The pharma division's outperformance helped shore up J&J's consumer unit, which managed to eke out 1.7% growth, to $14.7 billion for the year. That, in itself, was a turnaround; the McNeil unit finally got Tylenol and Motrin products back onto store shelves after a long slog through recalls and manufacturing-plant overhauls. In fact, OTC drugs delivered a 19.7% increase in the U.S. thanks to the reintroductions of recalled products.

"Johnson & Johnson delivered strong results in 2013 led by the outstanding performance in our pharmaceutical business [and] the strength of key brands in our U.S. OTC and other consumer businesses," CEO Alex Gorsky said in a statement.

Remicade remains J&J's biggest seller by far, with $6.67 billion in full-year sales for rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's disease and other inflammatory disorders. J&J's newer anti-inflammatory, Stelara, took a big leap last year to $1.5 billion, almost a half-billion more than last year's results. The anticoagulant Xarelto almost tripled sales for the fourth quarter, and leaped to $864 million for the full year. But it was Zytiga that turned in the most impressive numbers: $1.7 billion for 2013, up by almost 80%. (All three of the latter made FiercePharma's list of Top 15 Drug Launch Superstars earlier this year.)

The pharma division didn't go unscathed by generic competition: Concerta, a pill for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, saw sales plummet by almost half in the U.S. after losing patent protection in that market. The stomach drug Aciphex also fell off patent, and went into an immediate skid, with fourth-quarter sales down 84% to a measly $29 million.

- read the J&J release

Special Reports: Top 15 Drug Launch Superstars - Zytiga - Stelara - Xarelto | Top 10 Pharma Companies by 2012 Revenues - J&J