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

Group net earnings were down 12.0% to $1.94 billion, and turnover slipped 5.5% to $15.64 billion. Worldwide pharmaceutical sales fell 4.7% to $5.71 billion, hurt by generic competition to some former big-earners.

Turnover from the antipsychotic Risperdal (risperidone) sank 21.8% to $151 million, and sank 91.7% to just $2 million in the USA. The longer-acting form of the drug, Risperdal Consta, decreased 2.8% to $388 million.

The epilepsy drug Topamax (topiramate) was also hit by generics and brought in $121 million, down 37.0%, while the anaemia therapy Procrit/Eprex (epoetin alfa) were down 16.8% to $479 million. J&J’s biggest seller was once again the anti-inflammatory Remicade (infliximab), though sales were down 6.4% to $1.07 billion. The attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder therapy Concerta (methylphenidate) decreased 3.4% to $368 million.

On the bright side, Velcade (bortezomib), for the treatment of patients with multiple myeloma and mantle cell lymphoma, was up 2.1% to $287 million. Sales of the new HIV therapy Prezista (darunavir) leapt 31.8% to $236 million, while J&J said that the results were boosted by the strong performance of newly-launched products including Stelara (ustekinumab) for moderate to severe plaque psoriasis and Simponi (golimumab) for moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and ankylosing spondylitis.

As for J&J’s other divisions, medical devices and diagnostics sales reached $6.32 billion, a 0.2% dip, though turnover from the consumer division fell 15.0% to $3.51 billion, hit by several recalls of over-the-counter medicines, including the children's analgesic Tylenol, the painkiller Motrin and Benadryl allergy tablets. 

Chief executive William Weldon said "although 2010 was a challenging year, the business continued to deliver earnings growth". He added that "while we will continue to see near-term pressures on the business for 2011, we remain committed to investing in innovative products [and] a robust pipeline. With respect to the recalls, Mr Weldon stated, that "we have made a commitment to restoring these products to the levels of quality and compliance that consumers expect of J&J".

The healthcare giant expects earnings per share in 2011 of $4.80-$4.90 per share, excluding certain items, up from 2010's $4.78 per share.