- Johnson & Johnson kicked off the first quarter earnings season on Tuesday, reporting a 12.6% increase in sales to push total revenues to $20 billion. Worldwide pharmaceutical sales accounted for $9.8 billion and were up 19% from this time last year.
- The company's blockbuster rheumatoid arthritis drug Remicade brought in $1.39 billion for the quarter, slightly lower than analysts expected. U.S. sales of Remicade came in at $916 million.
- On Monday evening, J&J announced it has inked a deal with Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. to develop and commercialize Bristol-Myers' Phase 2 Factor XIa inhibitor BMS-986177. No financial details were disclosed.
J&J's best-selling drug Remicade (infliximab) saw its sales drop about 17% year over year in the first quarter — and an even steeper 22% decline in the U.S. The company attributes the drop to a "one-time payment adjustment" and noted on an earnings call with analysts April 17 that the anti-inflammatory still has 95% share of the volume of the infliximab market.
Remicade is one of the only products to have multiple biosimilar competitors actually on the market — Pfizer Inc. and Celltrion Inc.'s Inflectra (infliximab-dyyb), and Merck & Co. and Samsung Bioepis' Renflexis (infliximab-abda). Yet, these complex copycats have largely been unable to penetrate the rebate agreements that J&J has struck with payers.
J&J executives weren't particularly chatty about the drug or what the one-time payment adjustment for Remicade exactly meant, choosing instead to focus on other drugs in the pharma's pipeline.
"Pharma is driving most of our upbeat outlook for the rest of the year," said outgoing CFO Dominic Caruso, after the company announced it increased its sales guidance for the years to a range of $81 to $81.5 billion.
Oncology is J&J's second largest therapeutic area, with $2.3 billion in sales this quarter. But no single product surpassed $1 billion in sales individually. The multiple myeloma drug Darzalex (daratumumab) was a bright spot for the company, growing nearly 70% this quarter to $433 million in worldwide sales. The company is developing a subcutanous formulation of the drug that is expected to be filed for approval in 2021.
Meanwhile, management said they don't expect generic competition this year for the prostate drug Zytiga (abiraterone acetate). The drug grew 61% this quarter to sales of $845 million.
"The increase of Zytiga is generally share and market driven," said Joaquin Duato, worldwide chairman of pharmaceuticals. "With the approval of the LATITUDE trial, we've seen significant growth of Zytiga in the U.S. and ex-U.S."