Johnson & Johnson has kicked off the US reporting season by posting a 49.3% fall in earnings for the second quarter, hit by charges, and healthy sales of new products, notably the prostate cancer drug Zytiga.

Group net income came in at just over $1.40 billion, including special items of $2.20 billion primarily attributed to a partial write-down of in-process R&D and intangible assets related to the Crucell vaccines business. Group turnover edged up 0.7% to $16.48 billion, while worldwide pharmaceutical sales were up 0.9% to $6.29 billion; however they fell 4.5% in the USA to $3.09 billion.

Generic competition meant that the antibiotic Levaquin (levofloxacin) sank 89.9% to just $16 million, following the loss of marketing exclusivity in the USA. The antipsychotic Risperdal Consta (risperidone) fell 12.1% to $355 million.

J&J’s anaemia therapy Procrit/Eprex (epoetin alfa) fell 15.6% to $401 million, while sales of Doxil/Caelyx (doxorubicin) for ovarian and other cancers, which was suspended last year because of manufacturing problems by supplier Boehringer Ingelheim’s Ben Venue unit, decreased 90.6% to $13 million.

On the positive side, J&J’s biggest seller was once again the Merck & Co-partnered anti-inflammatory Remicade (infliximab), sales of which were up 11.1% to $1.52 billion, while the latter’s follow-up Simponi (golimumab) brought in $125 million, up 86.6%.

The HIV therapy Prezista (darunavir) leapt 19.2% to $73 million, while turnover from Stelara (ustekinumab) for moderate to severe plaque psoriasis climbed 40.9% to $248 million. Zytiga (abiraterone) contributed $232 million to J&J's coffers, up from $49 million in the like, year-earlier period.

The healthcare giant noted that sales at its medical devices and diagnostics unit were flat at $6.57 billion, while turnover from its troubled consumer division fell 4.6% to $3.62 billion. On a conference call, new J&J chief executive Alex Gorsky said the firm is focused on sorting out the manufacturing woes suffered by its over-the-counter business.