Janssen Pharmaceuticals is one of the world's biggest drug companies, with revenues of $45.6bn in 2020. However, the business is perhaps less well-known under its actual trading name as opposed to its parent company Johnson & Johnson, a world leader in diversified healthcare. Having operated for several years as various separate entities, J&J finally consolidated all its pharmaceutical businesses in 2011 under the Janssen name. It is the parent group's biggest division. Though it offers a wide-range of medicines, Janssen has comes to focus its attentions on six key sectors of which the most important are immunology, oncology and neuroscience. In 2020, it managed a portfolio of no fewer than 12 multi-billion dollar blockbusters as well as numerous other drugs. Anti-inflammatory drug Stelara became the group's top-seller for the first time in 2019, and sales continued to rise in 2020 reaching $7.7bn. That put it ahead of Janssen's previous champion Remicade, another anti-inflammatory treatment. Janssen has rights in the US and selected other countries, but the product is handled by Merck in most of Europe. However sales are now in decline as a result of patent expiry, slipping to $3.7bn in 2020. Follow-up drug Simponi contributed a further $2.2bn. Other key products are Imbruvica for cancer ($4.1bn), anti-psychotic Invega ($3.7bn), Darzalex for myeloma ($4.2bn), prostate cancer treatment Zytiga ($2.5bn), anti-coagulant Xarelto ($2.3bn), HIV treatment Prezista ($2.2bn) and Opsumit for pulmonary hypertension ($1.6bn). Tremfya, for severe psoriasis, achieved blockbuster status for the first time in 2019, rising to $1.3bn in 2020. Newest addition to the blockbuster collection is Uptravi, a treatment for pulmonary hypertension, which generated almost $1.1bn in 2020. Also that year, Janssen was one of several drug companies that entered the race to find a vaccine for Covid. Test results were promising, though slightly less effective than rival vaccines. However, Janssen's single-dose product, which doesn't require the low-temperature refrigeration of rivals, is more practical for some regions, especially developing markets. It was approved for use in the US in Feb 2021, but suffered a series of reverses including manufacturing issues. Nevertheless it is expected to top sales of $2.5bn by the end of 2021. Separately, Janssen is just one of Johnson & Johnson's subsidiaries which has been feeling the heat from consumer litigation. During 2019 it was obliged to defend multiple lawsuits over opioid products and its anti-psychotic Risperdal. Jennifer Taubert is group EVP and worldwide chairman of the Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceuticals division.
Capsule checked 23rd July 2021
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Adbrands Daily Update 14th Jun 2021: Johnson & Johnson's Covid vaccine continues to be plagued by problems. US regulators this week ordered the company to throw out 60m doses of the vaccine created at the severely challenged Emergent BioSolutions plant because of possible contamination. The FDA will allow another two batches totalling 10m doses to be shipped but only with a warning that they may have been affected by manufacturing problems.
Adbrands Daily Update 14th Apr 2021: There was another hitch in the US rollout of Johnson & Johnson's Covid vaccine. The program was paused temporarily as regulators investigate a rare possible side-effect: a tiny number of patients appear to have suffered serious blood clots following vaccination. That's a similar issue to the one experienced by a handful of recipients of the AstraZeneca vaccine in Europe. There are only six reports of a blood clot associated with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, out of 6.7m people vaccinated - literally a one in a million likelihood - but investigators want to clarify the exact risk. [Updated 23rd Apr 2021: The vaccine was cleared for use by US regulators after nine days of investigation, but will carry a label warning of the risk of blood clotting.]
Adbrands Daily Update 1st Apr 2021: Johnson & Johnson's vaccine program got off to a poor start when workers at a US-based sub-contractor accidentally contaminated up to 15m doses. J&J hired Emergent BioSolutions to manufacture a large quantity of its US supply. However, the firm is also sub-contracted by AstraZeneca to produce its vaccine, which is still awaiting FDA approval in the US. Workers appear to have accidentally mixed up ingredients from the two different products. None of the contaminated product left the facility and future deliveries have been suspended temporarily while stricter controls are imposed. Despite this error, Johnson & Johnson said it had fulfilled its goal to ship 20m doses by the end of March and is targeting 24m doses by the end of April. All current supplies were manufactured in the Netherlands. Despite these claims, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention data for 31st March show that only a little under 7m doses of the J&J shot have been actually delivered to US states, and just 3.3m doses administered.
Adbrands Daily Update 20th Aug 2020: Johnson & Johnson agreed to acquire US biotech Momenta for $6.5bn in cash. The target company has a number of drugs in development to treat auto-immune conditions. Momenta's pipeline would stregthen J&J's existing portfolio, now that former top-seller Remicade is in decline.
Adbrands Daily Update 9th Oct 2019: Legal woes keep on piling up for Johnson & Johnson. In the latest adverse ruling, a jury in Philadelphia awarded $8bn in punitive damages to a man who claims that the company's anti-psychotic drug Risperdal caused him to develop enlarged breasts during childhood. It is the biggest award to-date against J&J out of some 13,000 Risperdal-related lawsuits. The plaintiffs claim that the company was aware of this possible side-effect but understated the risk to doctors. This particular lawsuit has been ongoing since 2015. Johnson & Johnson said it will appeal the "grossly disproportionate" fine. [Updated: the fine was subsequently slashed on appeal to just $6.8m.]
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