Company news: J&J, Roche, Diversified Agency Services (DAS)

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Johnson & Johnson reported third-quarter sales of $15 billion, a 0.7% decrease vs. the year-ago quarter, as weaker consumer-product sales weighed on revenue. The company, which turned a modest quarterly profit due to a lower tax rate, said domestic consumer sales—down 24.5%—were significantly impacted by recalls and suspension of manufacturing in the McNeil unit. J&J said earlier this year that the recalls of children's drugs due to quality and potency issues would cost it $600 million in annual sales. For the quarter, worldwide pharma sales came in at $5.5 billion, up 4.7% vs. the prior year ($3.1 billion US, a 6.9% increase), driven by the global performance of Remicade ($1.2 billion, up 18.6%), Consta ($378 million, up 7.1%) and Prezista ($230 million, up 52.3%), all of which offset weak performance of Procrit and Velcade. On the device side, global Cordis sales slid 6.9% to $596 million.

Last week Roche kicked off big pharma earnings season, reporting quarterly sales for the Roche Group down 7.3% vs. the year-ago quarter to 11.5 billion Swiss francs ($12.1 billion), on slack demand for Tamiflu. Sales of the antiviral plummeted due to the end of the influenza A (H1N1) pandemic and the completion of final government orders, the company said. Sales of Roche's big three products missed analyst estimates, and the franchises may come under attack from regulators. Lead seller Avastin rose 11% but US and European regulatory authorities are reviewing its breast cancer indication, and its approval in ovarian cancer could also be at risk. Herceptin, along with MabThera/Rituxan, rose 8%, and several European trials are evaluating whether a shorter course of Herceptin therapy may be just as effective. Roche , which doesn't release quarterly earnings, also affirmed its full-year outlook, predicting local-currency sales growth (excluding Tamiflu) in the mid-single-digit range for the Group.

Omnicom Group's Diversified Agency Services (DAS) acquired medical-communications agency Excerpta Medica from publisher Elsevier. Excerpta Medica will become a division of DAS's Adelphi, a group of businesses that provides strategic marketing services to the pharmaceutical industry. Excerpta will continue to operate as an independent business, with offices in New Jersey, Amsterdam and London. Excerpta Medica's services include publication planning, medical meetings and education, interactive solutions and customized publishing solutions.

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