Johnson & Johnson’s second quarter earnings, released on Tuesday, largely beat analysts’ expectations, thanks in part to growth in autoimmune drugs, particularly by the Crohn’s disease medication Stelara. Worldwide sales of Stelara were up 36.4% in Q2 to $1.3 billion worldwide.
The company’s worldwide pharma sales increased by 19.9% from the year prior to $10.4 billion amid the decline of blockbuster immunosuppressive Remicade, which saw a sales decline of 13.7% in the period to $1.3 billion. The drug’s slump was caused by both a spike in biosimilar competition, but also an increase in discounts and rebates.
Remicade’s prices are set to fall more in the coming months as payer contracts come up for renewal, J&J executives said on an earnings call on Tuesday. The company is also dealing with a lawsuit from Pfizer, which alleged that J&J’s contracts with health insurers for Remicade were anticompetitive and aimed at protecting its revenue. J&J has filed a motion to dismiss.
J&J has previously said that it is seeing positive conversion from Remicade and Stelara, and that it is managing its autoimmune franchise as a portfolio, not on a product-by-product basis.
Remicade’s price may have fallen 14%, but it still hold 94 percent of the market share.
J&J’s overall sales were up 10.6% versus the year prior to $20.8 billion, with its pharmaceutical division driving growth with sales up 19.9% to $10.4 billion. J&J’s consumer business saw an 0.7% sales increase in Q2 to $3.5 billion, while its medical device group was up 3.7% to nearly $7 billion.
The overall sales number excludes revenues from Actelion, a pharma and biotech company J&J acquired last year. CEO Alex Gorsky said on the company’s conference call that the unit’s growth reflects “strong underlying volume” increases.
In addition to Stelara, the company can also thank fellow autoimmune drugs Tremfya, recently launched, and Simponi, as well as the prostate cancer drug Zytiga, which surged 63% worldwide to $909 million. J&J said it does not anticipate generic competition for Zytiga this year.
J&J also revealed that worldwide sales of diabetes medication Invokana were down 27% year-over-year to $215 million worldwide from April to June. The drug was the first of its kind when it entered the market in 2013, but Eli Lilly and Boehringer Ingelheim said in December that their comparable SGLT-2 inhibitor, Jardiance, reduced cardiovascular risks in type 2 diabetes.
Similar findings have been disclosed for Invokana. J&J has been anticipating being able to tout the treatment’s cardiovascular benefits, but a delay by the FDA means they can’t until the the agency hands down its decision in October.