Johnson & Johnson has posted a reasonable set of figures for the third quarter, with pharmaceuticals off-setting in part a decline in revenues from recalls of its over-the-counter products.

Group net earnings were up 2.2% to $3.42 billion, and turnover slipped 0.7% to $14.98 billion. However, worldwide pharmaceutical sales were up 4.7% to $5.50 billion, despite generic competition continuing to hurt key products.

Turnover from the antipsychotic Risperdal (risperidone) sank 37.0% to $121 million, and actually lost $2 million in the USA. However, the longer-acting form of the drug, Risperdal Consta, was up 7.1% to $378 million.

The epilepsy drug Topamax (topiramate) was also hit by generics and brought in $127 million, down 27.4%, while J&J’s anaemia therapy Procrit/Eprex (epoetin alfa) were down 25.1% to $406 million.

On the positive side, J&J’s biggest seller was once again the anti-inflammatory Remicade (infliximab), sales of which were up 18.6% to $1.23 billion, while Velcade (bortezomib), for the treatment of patients with multiple myeloma and mantle cell lymphoma, was up 6.5% to $246 million. Sales of the new HIV therapy Prezista (darunavir) leapt 52.3% to $230 million, while turnover from the attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder therapy Concerta (methylphenidate) increased 5.3% to $299 million.

As for J&J’s other divisions, medical devices and diagnostics sales reached $5.92 billion, a 1.3% increase, though turnover from the consumer division fell 10.6% to $3.57 billion, hit by several recalls by its McNeil Consumer Healthcare unit of over-the-counter medicines, including the children's analgesic Tylenol, the painkiller Motrin and Benadryl allergy tablets.

J&J suspended operations at its Fort Washington, Pennsylvania facility, the primary source of the children's medicines but chief executive William Wheldon said "we have made considerable progress, and are working diligently to reopen what will be a state of the art facility". The company has begun restoring the supply of some of the impacted children's medicines, "which will increase in the coming months".

He noted that "our pharmaceutical business has returned to growth this year and we continue to advance our pipeline with promising clinical data in key therapeutic areas". Mr Weldon added that "we are pleased with the strong performance of newly-launched products in both our pharmaceutical and medical device and diagnostics businesses."

The CEO concluded by saying "J&J will continue "investing in our future through complementary strategic partnerships and acquisitions," The firm has also raised its earnings forecast for the full year to $4.70-$4.80 per share, excluding certain items, up from previous guidance of $4.65-$4.75.