Johnson & Johnson has unveiled its first-quarter financials which show that group sales were up 7.7% to $16.19 billion, boosted by currency gains and strong consumer healthcare revenue growth rather than pharmaceuticals.

Net income was up 39.8% to $3.60 billion, or $1.26 per share (+43.2%), though J&J also noted that the figures for the corresponding period last year included $807 million in charges related to the acquisition of Conor Medsystems. Discounting that factor, the rises were 6.4% and 8.6%, respectively.

Worldwide pharmaceutical sales reached $6.43 billion, up 3.3%, but were slightly down when the currency factor was excluded. The biggest seller was the anti-inflammatory Remicade (infliximab), which increased 36.5% to $998 million, while the antiepileptic and migraine agent Topamax (topiramate) brought in $646 million, a rise of 5.9%. Sales of the antipsychotic Risperdal (risperidone) fell 6.7% to $809 million as a result of generic competition outside the USA, but the longer-acting form of the drug, Risperdal Consta, enjoyed an 18.4% hike in sales to $309 million.

Turnover from the attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder therapy Concerta (methylphenidate) rose 15.1% to $290 million and the anti-infective Levaquin/Floxin (levofloxacin) increased 3.5% to $496 million. On the negative side, J&J’s anaemia therapy Procrit/Eprex (epoetin alfa) slumped 23.0% to $629 million (and down 37.0% in the USA) on the back of continued fears over cardiovascular safety for the entire erythropoiesis-stimulating class of drugs and problems regarding Medicare reimbursement.

Chief executive William Weldon said the earnings were solid, saying that “our strategy of being broadly based remains one of the keys to our consistent long-term performance." Drug turnover has certainly slowed down but J&J’s consumer healthcare sales climbed 16.2% to $4.06 billion. Diagnostic and devices sales climbed 7.2% to $5.70 billion but revenues from the firm’s Cordis subsidiary, which markets the drug-coated stent Cypher, posted a 10.0% decline to $835 million.

The results slightly exceeded analyst expectations but were somewhat disappointed with J&J’s conservative full-year earnings forecast excluding items of $4.40-$4.45 a share, up just one cent from a forecast issued in January.