Johnson & Johnson has posted a solid set of figures for the first quarter but pharmaceutical sales have declined and the healthcare giant believes that US reforms will hit the company in the pocket.

Group net earnings were up 29.0% to $4.53 billion, helped by a $910 million gain from patent litigation settlements, and turnover rose 4.0% to $15.63 billion. However, worldwide pharmaceutical sales fell 2.5% to $5.64 billion (and down 12.7% in the USA) as a result of generic competition to key products.

Turnover from the antipsychotic Risperdal (risperidone) sank 49.8% to $138 million, and US sales of the blockbuster were down 95.8% to just $5 million). However, the longer-acting form of the drug, Risperdal Consta, shot up 16.6% to $379 million.

The epilepsy drug Topamax (topiramate) was also hit by generics and brought in $148 million, down 75.4%. Worldwide sales of J&J’s anaemia therapy Procrit/Eprex (epoetin alfa) were down 4.9% to $523 million.

On the positive side, J&J’s biggest seller was once again the anti-inflammatory Remicade (infliximab), sales of which were up 15.4% to $1.19 billion, while Velcade (bortezomib), for the treatment of patients with multiple myeloma and mantle cell lymphoma, was up 35.9% to $261 million. Sales of the new HIV therapy Prezista (darunavir) leapt 53.3% to $187 million, while the company’s Risperdal follow-up Invega (paliperidone) contributed $108 million, up 18.7%. Turnover from the attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder therapy Concerta (methylphenidate) slipped 4.4% to $329 million.

As for J&J’s other divisions, medical devices and diagnostics sales reached $6.23 billion, a 12.5% increase, while turnover from the consumer division was up 1.5% to $3.77 billion.

The results exceeded analysts' forecasts but chief financial officer Dominic Caruso said on a conference call that health reform laws in the USA would reduce the company's turnover in 2010 by around $400 million to $500 million. As a result, J&J revised its full-year earnings guidance to $4.80- $4.90 per share, from an earlier estimate of $4.85-$4.95.