Johnson & Johnson has unveiled second quarter 2007 sales up 13% to $15.1 billion and reiterated its full year earnings guidance of between $4.02 and $4.07 per share, but investors were more interested in the fact that revenues from its anaemia therapy Procrit/Eprex (epoetin alfa) slipped 14% in the USA to $449 million on the back of continued fears over cardiovascular safety for the entire erythropoiesis-stimulating class of drugs. Earlier this year a US regulatory panel recommended a further strengthening of the warning labels on J&J and Amgen’s anaemia drugs, which also includes the multi-billion dollar sellers Aranesp (darbepoetin alfa) and Epogen (epoetin alfa).
Overall, worldwide pharmaceutical sales were $6.1 billion for the quarter, up 5.8%, including a 2% positive gain from currency movements. Amongst the leaders were the antiepileptic and migraine agent Topamax (topiramate; +16% to $578 million), the anti-inflammatory Remicade (infliximab; +12% to $869 million) for Crohn’s disease and arthritis, and its antipsychotic franchise (+10% to $1.1 billion) headed by Risperdal (risperidone). It is also hoping for big things from its newly-approved schizophrenia drug Invega (paliperidone) – a once-daily follow-up to Risperdal, from which it is derived. Meanwhile, it notes that it is also seeking approval for two novel antibiotics – ceftobiprole and doripenem – with New Drug Applications having been filed in the USA and Europe during the quarter.
More bad news came in the shape of sales for the Cypher stent, which tumbled 30% overall as increasing competition, a decline in the marketplace for such procedures and questions around the use of drug-coated stents and risk of clots continue to affect take up. Indeed the Cordis subsidiary that markets the Cypher stent saw its sales plunge 20% over the quarter to $852 million.
But despite the clouds on the horizon for J&J, its broad array of businesses helped it post relatively solid second quarter results, with operational growth at 10.8% and net earnings of $3.1 billion, up from $2.8 billion in the like, year-earlier period, although this also included an exceptional gain of $87 million relating to the acquisition of Vascular Control Systems. Excluding this, J&J says net income grew 6% during the second quarter. “Our broadly-based approach to healthcare is serving us well as challenges in the marketplace intensify across certain business,” commented Chairman William Weldon.
Shares in the company closed slightly lower yesterday at $62.74, down almost a percentage point over the previous day.