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Olysio and Xarelto boost J&J’s Q4

Published on 21/01/15 at 05:36pm
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Johnson & Johnson earned a 10% increase in worldwide sales of its drugs in the last quarter of 2014 compared with last year according to the firm’s latest financials.

The company’s global drug sales rose from $7.3 billion in Q4 2013 to $8 billion in the last quarter of 2014 – a 9.6% increase. J&J says the results were driven by its pharmaceutical arm Janssen’s new products.

Global sales of Olysio (simeprevir), which has recently been approved for use by NICE as a combination treatment of chronic hepatitis C in adults, rose from $23 million in the last quarter of 2013 to $321m in the same period this year.

Fourth-quarter US sales of oral blood-thinning drug Xarelto (rivaroxaban) nearly doubled from $864m in 2013 to $1.5bn in 2014, while psoriasis biologic Stelara (ustekinumab) rose by $500m in the same time period.

Several older drugs approaching the end of their patents showed a noticeable flattening in sales in 2014 compared with the year before. Whilst blockbuster biologic Remicade (infliximab) increased by $200m, long-standing oncology product Velcade (bortezomib) fell by $42m.

Over the full year worldwide pharmaceutical sales rose from $28.1 billion in 2013 to $32.3bn in 2014 – a 14.9% increase.

The latest results mean J&J has launched 14 new pharmaceutical products since 2009, six of which have passed the $1bn sales threshold. Alex Gorsky, Johnson & Johnson’s chairman and chief executive officer, maintains the company has had ‘a strong year’ and “built significant momentum in our pharmaceutical business”.

He adds: “We delivered solid financial results while continuing to make investments to accelerate growth for the long term. I am proud of our exceptional Johnson & Johnson colleagues who make our success possible with their commitment to advancing health and well-being for patients and consumers around the world.”

Gorsky says the company is also planning 10 new pharma product filings between 2013 and 2017, including esketamine, a glutamate NMDA antagonist that he described as a ‘potential breakthrough medication’ for treatment-resistant depression.

Other pipeline products include an anti-CD38 antibody daratumumab for multiple myeloma; ARN-509, a next-generation androgen receptor inhibitor for prostate cancer; IL-6 inhibitor guselkumab for psoriasis; IL-23 inhibitor sirukumab for rheumatoid arthritis, and revisiting the development of the anti-nerve growth factor antibody fulranumab for osteoarthritic pain – which was placed under an FDA clinical hold in 2011 after being linked to an increased risk of joint damage.

Lilian Anekwe

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