Johnson & Johnson has posted a solid set of figures for the second quarter but the healthcare giant is starting to feel the effects of controversial recalls of a number of its over-the-counter treatments.

Group net earnings were up 7.5% to $3.45 billion, and turnover sneaked up 0.6% to $15.33 billion. Worldwide pharmaceutical sales edged up 1% to $5.55 billion, despite generic competition continuing to hurt key products.

Turnover from the antipsychotic Risperdal (risperidone) sank 51.0% to $117 million, and actually lost $17 million in the USA. However, the longer-acting form of the drug, Risperdal Consta, was up 2.0% to $355 million.

The epilepsy drug Topamax (topiramate) was also hit by generics and brought in $142 million, down 22.0%. Worldwide sales of J&J’s anaemia therapy Procrit/Eprex (epoetin alfa) were down 8.8% to $526 million.

On the positive side, J&J’s biggest seller was once again the anti-inflammatory Remicade (infliximab), sales of which were up 2.5% to $1.13 billion, while Velcade (bortezomib), for the treatment of patients with multiple myeloma and mantle cell lymphoma, was up 24.9% to $286 million. Sales of the new HIV therapy Prezista (darunavir) leapt 45.7% to $204 million, while the company’s Risperdal follow-up Invega (paliperidone) contributed $102 million, up 3.0%. Turnover from the attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder therapy Concerta (methylphenidate) edged up 1.9% to $323 million.

As for J&J’s other divisions, medical devices and diagnostics sales reached $6.13 billion, a 4.1% increase, though turnover from the consumer division fell 5.4% to $3.65 billion. Indeed problems at the latter unit have led to J&J suffering a torrid time in the press, with the Food and Drug Administration and from the US government.

Specifically, the company’s reputation has taken a bashing since its McNeil Consumer Healthcare unit issued the first of what have become several recalls since late 2009 of over-the-counter medicines, including the children's analgesic Tylenol, the painkiller Motrin and Benadryl allergy tablets. In April, more than 136 million bottles of liquid children's medicines were recalled due to quality problems such as higher-than-appropriate concentrations of active ingredient and the presence of metal particles and more recalls followed earlier this month.

J&J recently suspended operations at its Fort Washington, Pennsylvania facility, the primary source of the children's medicines, and is working to upgrade it. Chief executive William Wheldon said that “remedial actions to address the product quality issue at McNeil “are ongoing and of high importance”, while chief financial officer Dominic Caruso added that the problems will affect full-year sales by about $600 million. Mr Caruso also noted that pricing pressures in Europe will shave about $200 million off 2010 pharmaceutical sales.

J&J has now lowered its earnings forecast for the full year to $4.65-$4.75 per share, excluding certain items, down from previous guidance of $4.80-$4.90. It was also disclosed that the company has received a grand jury subpoena from the US Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and is cooperating with a federal investigation relating to the multiple OTC product recalls.