Johnson & Johnson

Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky

1. Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ)
2014 revenue: $74.331 billion
2013 revenue: $71.312 billion

Johnson & Johnson's pharma business went gangbusters in 2014. Thanks to cash-pumping new meds such as the prostate cancer med Zytiga and the anticoagulant Xarelto, J&J's drug sales are growing faster than any other drugmaker's, as CEO Alex Gorsky was quick to point out during the 2014 earnings call with analysts. U.S. sales? Up a whopping 25%.

All in all, prescription drugs brought in $32.4 billion for J&J last year, making pharma the biggest of its divisions. Consumer health and devices didn't grow nearly so much; in fact, with 15% worldwide pharma growth and some 6% overall, it's easy to see that drugs helped shore up some less-than-stellar results from the other two.

But 2015 isn't looking quite as positive. One of the top performers in J&J's pharma stable last year was Olysio, the hepatitis C med approved in late 2013. The protease inhibitor raced to blockbuster status last year, ending up with $2.3 billion in sales. But with newer cocktails now on the market--namely Gilead Sciences' ($GILD) Harvoni and AbbVie's ($ABBV) Viekira Pak--Olysio will be fighting for patients in its own market niche, armed with a new approval alongside Gilead's Sovaldi. And with payer contracts sewn up by Gilead and AbbVie--some of them exclusive deals--J&J has reimbursement challenges, too.

Xarelto, meanwhile, is facing stepped-up competition from Pfizer ($PFE) and Bristol-Myers Squibb's ($BMY) Eliquis. Zytiga has a new threat in the form of Xtandi, a newer prostate cancer pill, marketed by Medivation ($MDVN) and Astellas. And there's Novartis' ($NVS) newly approved psoriasis med Cosentyx, which won FDA approval partly because of head-to-head data showing it beat Stelara by several measures. And its anti-inflammatory stalwart Remicade, sold in partnership with Merck ($MRK), just got head-to-head competition from biosimilars in Europe.

J&J could keep the growth coming with some dealmaking, though. The company had been in the race to buy Pharmacyclics ($PCYC), its partner on the blood cancer drug Imbruvica. AbbVie, however, scooped up the prize at the last minute, and at a premium price of $21 billion. And eventually, the company will be looking for a boost from Alios BioPharma, a clinical-stage company specializing in antivirals that J&J bought last year.

Meanwhile, consumer health and devices will be pitching in this year, CFO Dominic Caruso predicted during the 2014 earnings call. The consumer business brought in $14.5 billion in 2014, thanks to improved sales of Tylenol and Motrin, among other brands. Devices brought in $27.5 billion, down year over year, but J&J expects better things in 2015.

-- Tracy Staton (email | Twitter)

For more:
J&J's pharma unit 'fastest-growing' in the drug business, CEO Gorsky says
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Is once-skeptical J&J coming around on pharma's breakup craze?
Can J&J score sales with FDA's new Olysio-plus-Sovaldi approval?
J&J beats the Street for Q3, thanks to surging sales of standout drugs

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