J&J Narrowly Misses Q1 Revenue on Lower-Than-Expected Stelara Sales

J&J Office in Spain_iStock, BrasilNut1

Pictured: Sign on top of Johnson & Johnsons office in Madrid, Spain/iStock, BrasilNut1

Johnson & Johnson reported first-quarter 2024 earnings on Tuesday, posting a 2.3% increase in sales buoyed by the strong performance of its oncology and immunology businesses. However, sales of its blockbuster psoriasis drug Stelara were lower than expected by Wall Street analysts and causing J&J to miss Q1 revenue estimates.

J&J’s revenue for the quarter came in at $21.38 billion versus an expectation of $21.4 billion. Sales of the pharma’s blockbuster immunotherapy Stelara (ustekinumab) has stagnated at $2.45 billion, held back by what J&J in its investor presentation called an “unfavorable patient mix.” Analysts expected Stelara to make $2.6 billion in the quarter, according to Reuters.

Stelara is a monoclonal antibody that blocks the IL-12 and IL-23 cytokines and is indicated for various immune-mediated conditions such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and plaque psoriasis. The therapy made nearly $10.9 billion in 2023, but also had to contend with the expiration of one of its key patents.

Trying to keep its hold on the market, J&J has struck a series of deals that would keep biosimilars off the U.S. market until 2025.

However, on the positive side of the ledger in the first quarter, J&J brought in nearly $21.4 billion, up from almost $20.9 billion during the same period in 2023. The company’s Innovative Medicine division—which is responsible for developing its pharmaceutical products across its priority therapeutic areas—accounted for approximately 65% of its revenue, while its MedTech unit contributed the remaining 35%.

J&J’s cancer franchise delivered strong results for the company, bringing in more than $4.8 billion in revenue in the first quarter, according to an investor presentation. Darzalex (daratumumab), an anti-CD38 therapy indicated for multiple myeloma, is the pharma’s top oncology asset, generating $2.69 billion in the most recent quarter or approximately 19% growth, according to Reuters.

Darzalex was first approved in November 2015 for heavily pre-treated or double refractory multiple myeloma. In 2023, the Darzalex brand grew by more than 22% and brought in over more than $9.7 billion.

Carvykti (ciltacabtagene autoleucel), J&J’s Legend Biotech-partnered CAR-T therapy for relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma, was also a top-performing asset in the first quarter, making around $157 million in the first quarter, according to Reuters. Earlier this month, the FDA approved the use of Carvykti for use in an earlier-line setting.

J&J’s immunology franchise was its second strongest Innovative Medicine unit, securing nearly $4.25 billion in revenue.

The company’s first-quarter performance “reflects our sharpened focus and progress in our portfolio and pipeline,” J&J CEO Joaquin Duato said in a statement. “Our impact across the full spectrum of healthcare is unique in our industry, and the milestones achieved this quarter reinforce our position as an innovation powerhouse.”

Looking forward to the rest of the year, J&J has narrowed its 2024 guidance. The pharma now expects to make $88 billion to $88.4 billion in sales, a more precise range as compared with its prior forecast of $87.8 billion to $88.6 billion.

Among the pharma’s upcoming milestones are the potential U.S. approvals for Rybrevant (lazertinib) in non-small cell lung cancer and a regulatory filing for Tremfya (guselkumab) for Crohn’s disease, pediatric psoriasis and pediatric juvenile psoriatic arthritis.

Tristan Manalac is an independent science writer based in Metro Manila, Philippines. Reach out to him on LinkedIn or email him at tristan@tristanmanalac.com or tristan.manalac@biospace.com.

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