J&J OTC sales slipped 3% in 2012 worldwide

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Despite a year marked by management changes and yet another round of product recalls, Johnson & Johnson said Tuesday that its fourth quarter wrapped with sales of $17.6 billion, a 4% uptick compared to the same period in 2011. US sales rose 8% for the quarter, compared to the same period last year, and international sales grew 8.9%, compared to Q4 2011.

Worldwide consumer sales for the year were $14.4 billion, down 2.9% from 2011, while global pharmaceutical sales were $25.4 billion for the year, a 4% increase over 2011. The company noted that Remicade, Velcade and Zytiga helped propel pharmaceutical sales. International pharmaceutical sales powered the rise, increasing 7.9% compared to last year, while US pharmaceutical sales scarcely budged, ending up 0.3% compared to the year before. CEO Alex Gorsky said blood-thinner Xarelto continues to build momentum with its current indications, landing a million prescriptions in 2012. He said the warfarin rival has 30% of the new-to-brand prescription category and received a boost when the FDA approved the drug for deep vein thrombosis in November. “By any measure we have transformed our pharmaceutical business,” Gorsky told investors. He also noted that IMS data puts J&J among the fastest growing companies in Europe and Japan, and said J&J continues to lead in total sales in new product launches, a position it's held since 2009.

J&J CFO Dominic Caruso told analysts that the company invests more heavily in R&D than many of its peers, and said he does not expect that to change. “We view ourselves as an innovator,” he said, and added that productivity is proof that the company's higher-than-the-norm investment of 20% of sales has paid off. Slimmer SG&A costs, which the company pursued in 2012, provides some of the financial backing for this research.

As for the consumer division, Gorsky said the company is dedicated to getting it back on solid ground, and cited the resurfacing of Children's Tylenol and Motrin as sign of progress. Despite the recalls and an extended absence from store shelves, Gorsky said consumer product opinions “seem to be remarkably resilient.” Gorsky said he expected 75% of the brands will be in stores by the end of 2013.
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