Janssen Pharmaceuticals is one of the world's biggest drug companies, with revenues of $42.2bn in 2019. 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. Top-selling brand for the first time in 2019 was the anti-inflammatory drug Stelara. Sales jumped by 25% to $6.4bn. 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 $4.4bn. Follow-up drug Simponi contributed a further $2.2bn. Other key products are Imbruvica for cancer ($3.4bn), anti-psychotic Invega ($3.3bn), Darzalex for myeloma ($3.0bn), prostate cancer treatment Zytiga ($2.8bn), anti-coagulant Xarelto ($2.3bn), HIV treatment Prezista ($2.0bn) and Opsumit for pulmonary hypertension ($1.3bn). Newest addition to the blockbuster collection was Tremfya for severe psoriasis, which achieved blockbuster status for the first time in 2019 at just over $1.0bn. Janssen is just one of Johnson & Johnson's subsidiaries which is currently feeling the heat from consumer litigation. Durung 2019 it was obliged to defend lawsuits over opioid products and the anti-psychotic Risperdal. Jennifer Taubert is group EVP and worldwide chairman of Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceuticals.
Capsule checked 30th September 2019
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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.]
Adbrands Daily Update 27th Aug 2019: Johnson & Johnson suffered damage on yet another legal front when an Oklahoma judge ruled that the company had caused a "temporary public nuisance" by contributing to the nation's opioid abuse crisis. He ordered J&J to pay $572m towards the costs of substance abuse treatment programmes, public education and medical services in Oklahoma. [Updated: the amount was later reduced on appeal to $465m.] Lawyers for the state had argued that Johnson & Johnson mis-marketed its opioid products, promoting their benefits to treat chronic pain and hiding the risks of long-term addiction. The fine was considerably less than the $17bn that Oklahoma's attorney general had demanded; yet J&J said it will appeal against the verdict: "Neither the facts nor the law support this outcome". However, this first opioid mismarketing case is likely to open the floodgates to a barrage of similar lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson and other manufacturers. The ruling prompted Purdue Pharma - makers of OxyContin - and its owners the Sackler family to propose a class settlement with state and government departments worth up to $12bn.
Adbrands Daily Update 19th Jun 2019: Johnson & Johnson was awarded the Grand Prix in Entertainment at the Cannes Lions festival for a bold 50-minute documentary produced by UM's branded content division in partnership with Highway 61 Films and prodco Saville. '5B' tells the story of the nurses who staffed San Francisco General Hospital's first dedicated ward for for newly diagnosed AIDS patients, as that epidemic spread in the early 1980s. "A brave idea, beautifully told and brilliantly executed," said the judges.
Adbrands Daily Update 26th Mar 2019: Already each facing substantial legal challenges for other products, Bayer and Johnson & Johnson tooks steps to settle a lawsuit over the anticoagulant Xarelto. The drug was developed by Bayer and is co-marketed in the US by J&J. Some 25,600 claims have been filed so far alleging that Xarelto caused severe and sometimes fatal bleeding episodes in some patients. Only six cases have come to trial so far, all of which have been won by the two companies, but they have taken the decision to settle all the remaining cases. "Bayer continues to believe these claims are without merit and there is no admission of liability under the agreement," the company said. "However, this favourable settlement allows the company to avoid the distraction and significant cost of continued litigation." A fund of $775m, split equally between the partners, will settle "virtually all" of the current caseload, allowing Bayer to focus on the legal challenges to its weedkiller Roundup and J&J to continue its defence of its talcum powder.
Adbrands Daily Update 17th Dec 2018: Johnson & Johnson's shares - and its reputation - came under renewed pressure following publication of a Reuters investigation that says the company has known for decades of occasional contamination of its talcum powder with asbestos. The minerals that constitute asbestos often occur naturally in the same locations where talcum is mined, but J&J has for years strongly denied any connection between Johnson's Baby Powder or its other talc product and ovarian or other cancers. It is currently defending itself against lawsuits from a group now numbering some 11,700 women. J&J has also been obliged to make public decades' of internal memos and reports. These show that the company has worried for years about the potential for contamination while also aggressively discrediting any public reports of its dangers. Sifting through this mammoth archive, Reuters found a small number of cases where testing laboratories reported to J&J that they had found contaminants in talcum powder samples. In one case the levels of asbestos were "rather high". The first of these reports date from the late 1950s, with others from the mid-1970s, and some are as recent as the early 2000s. Johnson & Johnson accuses plaintiffs' lawyers of "distorting historical documents and intentionally creating confusion in the courtroom". CEO Alex Gorsky told analysts he is "confident that our products do not contain asbestos and do not cause ovarian cancer." However, one of the key points raised by the Reuters report is that "J&J talc products today may be safe, but the talc at issue in thousands of lawsuits was sold and used over the past 60 years." J&J says the Reuters report is "false and misleading", and has launched a print and online ad campaign to address the errors: "J&J's baby powder is safe and does not cause cancer. Studies of tens of thousands of women and thousands of men show that talc does not cause cancer or asbestos-related disease." However, the Reuters story was enough to spook investors, causing a near-13% fall in the company's stock price, its biggest short-term decline in 16 years.
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