Risperdal changeover tests J&J

Johnson & Johnson swung to a first-quarter loss as the company took a charge from an acquisition and felt the impact of challenges to some of its prescription drug and device franchises. First-quarter profit came in 22% less than last year’s, due to a charge for the acquisition of heart-device maker Conor Medsystems. The December acquisition of Pfizer’s consumer unit for $16.6 billion, though, helped boost sales 16%. J&J, the biggest seller of stents worldwide, said revenue from drug-coated stents like Cypher fell 27% to $530 million, following studies linking the devices to elevated risk of fatal blood clots. Pharmaceutical revenue rose 11% to $6.2 billion. But weak performers in the segment included anti-inflammatory drug Remicade, which grew just 7.3% to $731 million, according to The Wall Street Journal, versus double-digit growth in the year-ago period. Due to generics, sales of pain patch Duragesic dipped 6.8% to $303 million. Sales of anemia drug Procrit rose 2% to $817 million. US sales of anti-psychotics—including Risperdal, long-acting injectable Risperdal Consta and Invega—increased 16% to $1.2 billion, the conglomerate said. J&J didn’t release separate numbers for Invega, its Risperdal follow-on which launched in the US in January. But an analysis of first-quarter US sales growth by WSJ’s Health Blog, citing data from Wolters Kluwer, shows Invega sales of just $7.4 million—a slow start for a drug J&J is counting on to replace its top-selling medicine, Risperdal, which generated a 13% hike in sales from last year to $553 million and is set to face patent expiration in 2008. During an earnings call with analysts, J&J CFO Dominic Caruso said Invega is “tracking along to our expectations,” according to Thomson StreetEvents. That’s with a label indication for schizophrenia only; a bipolar mania filing is expected in 2008. Risperdal’s label includes both indications.

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