Business briefs: J&J, Genzyme, Roche

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Johnson & Johnson is looking to offload its women's health division, reported the Wall Street Journal, which attributed the news to “people familiar with the process.” The WSJ said the move is part of the company's efforts to focus on businesses that mesh with its growth strategy, as seen by its recent announcement that it was looking to dump its clinical test business as well. J&J's women's health franchise includes brands such as Stayfree and OB tampons.

Genzyme and Isis Pharmaceuticals won FDA approval for Kynamro, a weekly injectible for patients with homozygous familial hypercholesterolemia, an inherited condition that keeps high LDL levels circulating in the bloodstream. The approval means Genzyme, a Sanofi subsidiary, forks over a $25 million milestone payment to partner Isis.

Roche announced Wednesday that it ended 2012 with a 4% increase in sales, thanks to rising demand for cancer medications and diagnostic tests. Heavy lifters included MabThera/Rituxan and Herceptin, as well as Avastin, which saw a rebound, thanks to the recent ovarian cancer approval in Europe. These top drugs helped propel the pharmaceutical division's 5% growth over 2012, accounting for $39 billion of the company's $50 billion in sales.

Twenty-eight days after declaring its independence from Abbott, AbbVie provided guidance for 2013. Among its expectations: Phase III programs for diabetic kidney disease and chronic lymphocytic leukemia, along with Phase IIb trials for a uterine fibroid therapy and several RA treatments. Humira, the new company's key revenue generator, saw sales growth during the final quarter of 2012 and remains a cornerstone product for the new drug company. CEO Richard Gonzalez said in a statement that the biologic is top of mind. “We expect to deliver on AbbVie's key priorities of driving continued strong growth of Humira.”

Pfizer's Tuesday earnings call kicked off another round of questions about whether the drug maker is contemplating a break-up. CEO Ian Read said the company's established markets have an internal divide—between innovative and value products—and that in emerging-markets such a division does not exist. Read told analysts during the call that at some point the emerging markets structure may need to mirror the established-market divide. He said at some point shareholders may decide they want two businesses. Read also said that bolt-on acquisitions remain a focus for the company—which saw fourth-quarter sales slide 7%, to $15.1 billion, and yearly sales fall 10% to $59 billion. Pinning down just what that means is another matter—Read and CFO Frank D'Amelio pointed to the $3.6 billion King Pharmaceuticals purchase the company made three years ago as something they considered a bolt-on business. “You pick it—our market cap is $180 billion. What should you consider a bolt-on?” Read asked.

Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide promoted two execs to managing partner. Darlene Dobry and Shaun Urban will assume that role alongside Michael Parisi and Marc Weiner, and will take direct responsibility for the firm's client-facing agencies and skill centers in the US while also becoming members of the network's global executive committee. Dobry, who joined the firm as president of CommonHealth's Carbon seven years ago, will be responsible for the network's medical marketing, specialty marketing and medical media groups. Urban, most recently president of the network's two US-based payer marketing agencies, will take on payer marketing, medical education and all new US-based business initiatives.

McCann hired the head of Publicis Medical Education to lead the US business for its Complete Medical unit. Dr. Leo Francis, previously president of Publicis Medical Education Group, becomes EVP, McCann Complete Medical US, reporting to McCann Complete Medical CEO Charlie Buckwell, who hailed his “collaborative and visionary style of business leadership.”

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