Johnson & Johnson

Alex Gorsky--Courtesy of J&J

1. Johnson & Johnson
2013 revenue: $71.312 billion
2012 revenue: $67.200 billion

When he took over the CEO and chairman's job at Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) in 2012, Alex Gorsky had inherited a mess from Bill Weldon. Problems in the company's over-the-counter division were a drag on earnings, U.S. pharma sales were off and it faced a bunch of Risperdal litigation in which lawyers were itching to put the CEO in front of a jury.

But just look at it now. Gorsky sits atop of a pharma company that sits atop of the group. For the first full year running the company, he can point to significant growth in its drug business, as well as a turnaround in its OTC division. Gorsky did it by taking care of business, by settling a lot of litigation and by putting in place a team in its McNeil Consumer Healthcare unit that finally got things right.

For the pharma division, which provided most of last year's growth, the company pushed workhorses, like rheumatoid arthritis med Remicade and HIV treatment Prezista. It also accelerated sales of hot-selling properties like anti-inflammatory Stelara, its anticoagulant Xarelto and prostate cancer therapy Zytiga. (All three are on FiercePharma's list of Top 15 Drug Launch Superstars.) The McNeil unit last year saw its sales grow nearly 20% by finally getting Tylenol and Motrin products back onto store shelves after years of recalls and plant remediation left them mostly missing in action.

The company cleared itself of the overhang of a lot of litigation. It finally reached the long-rumored settlement with the U.S. over its marketing of antipsychotic drug Risperdal, agreeing to lay out $2.2 billion to put that to rest. It also agreed to pay $4.4 billion to settle thousands of lawsuits tied to its recalled metal hip implants. Other moves in its devices division, which last year contributed slightly more than its prescription drug business, have also strengthened the company.

J&J has had a few setbacks since this year began but has a lot of irons in the fire to overcome them. The FDA gave Xarelto a third rejection for use in acute coronary syndrome (ACS) patients. Still, the drug is approved for 6 uses, including preventing stroke in atrial fibrillation patients, and should hit blockbuster numbers this year. J&J recently had a flop in a mid-stage study of a new experimental antidepressant. On the other hand, it got expanded approval, along with partner Pharmacyclics ($PCYC), for their new drug Imbruvica as a second-line treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), opening it up for much broader sales, which are forecast to hit $1.8 billion by 2018.

-- Eric Palmer (email | Twitter)

For more:
J&J, Pharmacyclics get CLL approval for Imbruvica
FDA advisory panel gives J&J's Xarelto resounding 'no' for ACS
J&J's Imbruvica bests Glaxo's Arzerra in CLL trial, raising hopes for off-label sales

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