Johnson & Johnson has kicked off the quarterly results season by posting a major decline in pharmaceutical revenues but the figures are still better than most analysts expected.

Group net earnings for the second quarter slipped 3.6% to $3.21 billion while turnover was down 7.4% to $15. 24 billion. Worldwide pharmaceutical sales reached $5.50 billion, a fall of 13.3%, as two of its older products were hit by loss of patent protection.

Turnover from the antipsychotic Risperdal (risperidone) collapsed 66.4% to $239 million, as generic competition tore into US sales of the blockbuster (down 85.8% to $70 million). The longer-acting form of the drug, Risperdal Consta, inched up 1.5% to $348 million.

The epilepsy drug Topamax (topiramate) was also hit by generics and brought in $182 million, down a massive 73.1%. Sales of J&J’s anaemia therapy Procrit/Eprex (epoetin alfa) fell 11.5% to $577 million, hurt by continued concerns over cardiovascular safety for the entire erythropoiesis-stimulating class of drugs. The Alzheimer’s disease drug Reminyl/Razadyne (galantamine) sank 29.6% to $107 million.

On the positive side, J&J’s biggest seller was once again the anti-inflammatory Remicade (infliximab), sales of which were up 24.4% to $1.02 billion. Turnover from the attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder therapy Concerta (methylphenidate) climbed 13.6% to $317 million, while Velcade (bortezomib), for the treatment of patients with multiple myeloma and mantle cell lymphoma, was up 11.7% to $229 million. Sales of the new HIV therapy Prezista (darunavir) were up 59.1% to $140 million.

As for J&J’s other divisions, medical devices and diagnostics sales reached $5.89 billion, a 3.1% decrease, while turnover from the consumer division were down 4.5% to $3.85 billion. Chief executive William Weldon was pleased, however, saying that the firm delivered “very solid operational results in light of the significant impacts of patent expirations and the economic environment”.

He added that J&J investments through internal R&D, strategic partnerships (buying into Elan Corp and its Alzheimer’s disease programme) and acquisitions (Cougar Biotechnology) “have allowed us to build what is considered by many to be one of the best pipelines in our industry”.