Johnson & Johnson expects its pharmaceuticals division will bring to market 20 new therapies for cancer, immune and neurological diseases by 2030, an outlook that underpins the industry giant’s forecast for sales growth of between 5% and 7% through the end of the decade.
Seven of those anticipated drugs have the potential to earn more than $5 billion each in peak annual sales, J&J said Tuesday as part of a business review held three months after the company split off its consumer division. The separation left J&J slimmer, but focused on its higher-margin pharmaceuticals and medical device businesses.
The projected sales growth would come despite the looming entry of biosimilar competitors to J&J’s top-selling medicine Stelara in the U.S. Sales of the drug, which treats autoimmune conditions like psoriasis and ulcerative colitis, surpassed $8 billion globally through the first nine months of 2023. The arrival of low-cost rivals in 2025 will drag sales growth that year down to at least 3%, below J&J’s forecast trend.
J&J is predicting a similar 5% to 7% growth rate for its pharmaceuticals business specifically, slightly below the 8% compound annual growth it reported for the unit from 2017 to 2022. That period saw dramatic growth in sales of Stelara as well as cancer medicines like the multiple myeloma medicine Darzalex.
The company has made multiple myeloma a particular area of focus, bringing to market new treatments like Carvykti, Talvey and Tecvayli in recent years. Moving forward, J&J aims to play a greater role in the treatment of bladder and lung cancers, highlighting Tuesday its new medicine Rybrevant as well as a drug-eluting device known as Taris.
J&J is also targeting depression and auto-antibody diseases as conditions around which it plans to build “disease area strongholds.” It’s also taking a bet on Alzheimer’s disease, for which it’s developing a monoclonal antibody that targets a protein, tau, that’s implicated in the condition.
One disease that’s missing from J&J’s plans is obesity. The clinical and financial success of weight loss medicines from Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly has sparked a pharmaceutical gold rush for new obesity treatments. Pfizer, Amgen, AstraZeneca and now Roche are all investing in obesity drug research in hopes of breaking into a market that executives and analysts forecast could be worth as much as $90 billion.
Still, the 5% to 7% sales growth forecast laid out by J&J Tuesday is well above Wall Street’s consensus, according to Leerink Partners analyst David Risinger. The company’s estimates also promise to match or potentially exceed sales growth at large drugmaker peer Novartis, which late last month said it expects to deliver 5% compounded annual increases through 2027.
Shares in J&J rose early Tuesday before falling back to trade flat.