J&J pitch­es its top 11 drugs in the pipeline — with a peak sales promise of $1B-plus

Joaquin Du­a­to at an End­points News event in San Fran­cis­co on Jan­u­ary 10, 2017


Over the last six years, J&J has nailed 11 new drug ap­provals. Look­ing for­ward over the next five years, the phar­ma gi­ant is fore­cast­ing that it can dou­ble that, with more than 10 new ap­provals for block­buster meds out of its late-stage pipeline. And it needs them all to keep up with an am­bi­tious growth fore­cast for its phar­ma di­vi­sion rev­enue.

Joaquin Du­a­to, J&J’s world­wide chair­man for phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, com­mit­ted to see­ing J&J’s brand­ed drug mar­ket main­tain a clip of 5% an­nu­al growth through 2020, de­spite some stiff “head­winds” on prices — “where price growth is flat­ten­ing” — with three ap­provals slat­ed for 2017 and four more which the phar­ma gi­ant ex­pects to ush­er in­to the mar­ket in 2018.

These new drugs are one leg of the com­pa­ny’s three-leg strat­e­gy for grow­ing rev­enue, with a promise that it can im­prove sig­nif­i­cant­ly on ex­ist­ing drugs — like Ste­lara, In­vokana and Xarel­to — while beef­ing up on a new core fo­cus on pul­monary ar­te­r­i­al hy­per­ten­sion through the Acte­lion buy­out.

Bill Hait, glob­al head of R&D, said he ex­pects 14 new meds to ar­rive in next five years, with 50 line ex­ten­sions on al­ready ap­proved ther­a­pies.

Bill Hait

First up, the two new im­munol­o­gy drugs al­ready filed for ap­proval and well known to in­vestors: guselkum­ab for pso­ri­a­sis; and sirukum­ab for rheuma­toid arthri­tis.

The next nine po­ten­tial block­busters cov­er a range of core fo­cus­es, with a ma­jor con­cen­tra­tion on on­col­o­gy. They are:

  • Apa­lu­tamide (ARN-509) for pre-metasta­t­ic prostate can­cer. J&J picked up this drug with its $1 bil­lion deal for Aragon.
  • Es­ke­t­a­mine for treat­ment-re­sis­tant de­pres­sion. This is an in­tranasal ver­sion of ke­t­a­mine, a horse tran­quil­iz­er and well known par­ty drug (Spe­cial K) known for rapid on­set with a host of side ef­fects.
  • Ta­la­co­tuzum­ab (JNJ-56022473/CSL362) for acute myeloid leukemia. This drug, orig­i­nal­ly from CSL, us­es Xen­cor’s an­ti­body tech.
  • Erdafi­tinib (an FGFR In­hibitor) for sol­id tu­mors.
  • Ni­ra­parib for prostate can­cer. Al­ready ap­proved in the US ear­li­er this year as Ze­ju­la, J&J picked up com­mer­cial rights on this PARP in­hibitor in a $500 mil­lion deal.
  • Ime­tel­stat for myelofi­bro­sis. Geron re­vealed a few weeks ago that J&J’s re­view of the da­ta from two stud­ies of its drug ime­tel­stat war­rant­ed con­tin­ued work in myelodys­plas­tic syn­dromes and myelofi­bro­sis. But the phar­ma gi­ant $JNJ is still re­serv­ing the right to quit if the da­ta doesn’t hold up lat­er in the year. That’s not a big vote of con­fi­dence.
  • Pi­modi­vir (JNJ-3872) for in­fluen­za A. J&J picked up this one from Ver­tex in 2014. Not much has been heard about it since then.
  • Lu­mic­itabine (JNJ-1575) for res­pi­ra­to­ry syn­cy­tial virus (RSV) in­fec­tion. J&J got this in their $1.75 bil­lion buy­out of Alios in 2014, which al­so net­ted drugs for hep C — a mar­ket that is be­ing flat­tened by some very ef­fec­tive cures.
  • JNJ-7922 (orex­in-2 an­tag­o­nist) for ad­junc­tive treat­ment for ma­jor de­pres­sive dis­or­der. This is a new one on me.

Ge­off Meacham at Bar­clays gave J&J’s pre­sen­ta­tion to­day sol­id marks for the longterm, but he sees an up­hill strug­gle at the phar­ma gi­ant as it wres­tles with some dis­ap­point­ing rev­enue num­bers. His note:

JNJ’s in­creas­ing em­pha­sis on on­col­o­gy (Darza­lex, apa­lu­tamide, ni­ra­parib, ta­la­co­tuzum­ab for AML) is a pos­i­tive step, which should of­fer bet­ter pric­ing pro­tec­tion vs. oth­er ther­a­peu­tic cat­e­gories such as im­munol­o­gy (biosim­i­lars) and di­a­betes (SGLT-2s).  JNJ is tar­get­ing above-mar­ket growth over the next decade, which we think is like­ly achiev­able, but our sense is that in­vestor con­vic­tion is low in con­vert­ing the port­fo­lio from lega­cy as­sets to new launch­es (e.g. apa­lu­tamide for Zyti­ga, guselkum­ab/sirukum­ab for Rem­i­cade). In­deed, while there is like­ly a sus­tained pe­ri­od of ac­cel­er­a­tion of in­ter­nal­ly dri­ven, or­gan­ic growth in the in­ter­me­di­ate-to-longer term, the next 1-2 years may be tough with the pend­ing Acte­lion deal pro­vid­ing a fix but not one that is like­ly to dri­ve mul­ti­ple ex­pan­sion.

It’s im­por­tant to re­mem­ber that the suc­cess rate for Phase III drugs is about 50%, and pay­ers have been rad­i­cal­ly al­ter­ing the land­scape for new drug prices. That all presents J&J with some big po­ten­tial pit­falls along the way to achiev­ing its goals. But with a $7 bil­lion an­nu­al bud­get for R&D, Du­a­to and Hait want in­vestors to know what they can ex­pect for the mon­ey.

The Big Phar­ma dis­card pile; Lay­offs all around while some biotechs bid farewell; New Roche CEO as­sem­bles top team; and more

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With earnings seasons in full swing, we’ve listened in on all the calls so you don’t have to. But news is popping up from all corners, so make sure you check out our other updates, too.

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Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) (Francis Chung/E&E News/Politico via AP Images)

In­fla­tion re­bates in­com­ing: Wyden calls on CMS to move quick­ly as No­var­tis CEO pledges re­ver­sal

Senate Finance Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR) this week sent a letter to the head of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services seeking an update on how and when new inflation-linked rebates will take effect for drugs that see major price spikes.

The newly signed Inflation Reduction Act requires manufacturers to pay a rebate to Medicare when they increase drug prices faster than the rate of inflation.

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Trodelvy notch­es a win in most com­mon form of breast can­cer

Following a promise last year to go “big and fast in breast cancer,” Gilead has secured a win for Trodelvy in the most common form.

The drug was approved to treat HR-positive, HER2-negative breast cancer patients who’ve already received endocrine-based therapy and at least two other systemic therapies for metastatic cancer, Gilead announced on Friday.

Trodelvy won its first indication in metastatic triple-negative breast cancer back in 2020, and has since added urothelial cancer to the list. HR-positive HER2-negative breast cancer accounts for roughly 70% of new breast cancer cases worldwide per year, according to senior VP of oncology clinical development Bill Grossman, and many patients develop resistance to endocrine-based therapies or worsen on chemotherapy.

Sanofi scraps PhI­II tri­al for Prin­cip­ia drug af­ter re­view­ing com­pe­ti­tion

Months after the FDA placed Phase III trials of Sanofi’s BTK inhibitor on hold, the company is winding down one of the studies.

Sanofi reported in its Q4 earnings that the URSA study “was discontinued after careful evaluation of the emerging competitive treatment landscape in” myasthenia gravis, a rare disease that causes muscle weakness.

The Phase III, placebo-controlled trial was testing tolebrutinib in patients with the moderate-to-severe form of the disease. It started in late 2021, according to records on clinicaltrials.gov, and was originally designed to recruit 154 participants who were receiving the standard of care.

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Raymond Stevens, Structure Therapeutics CEO

Be­hind Fri­day's $161M IPO: A star sci­en­tist, GPCR drug dis­cov­ery and a plan to chal­lenge phar­ma in di­a­betes

What does it take to pull off a $161 million biotech IPO these days?

In Structure Therapeutics’ case, it means having a star scientist co-founder paired with the computational drug discovery company Schrödinger, $198 million in private funding from blue-chip investors, almost six years of research work on G protein-coupled receptors and a slate of oral, small-molecule drugs, with an eye on the huge and growing diabetes and weight-loss market.

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Af­ter 13 years, Ramy Mah­moud steps in­to CEO seat at Opti­nose; Ru­pert Vessey set to ex­it Bris­tol My­ers in Ju­ly

After 13 years as president and COO at Optinose, Ramy Mahmoud has stepped into a new role as its CEO. He is taking the place of Peter Miller, who stepped down earlier this week, though Miller is still staying with the company as a consultant.

In 2010, the two business partners joined Optinose to take it in a new direction, transforming it from a delivery platform to product company. They previously worked together at Johnson & Johnson, when Miller was president at Janssen and Mahmoud headed medical affairs. Miller said after he learned about Optinose, “I did what I always do, which is find people smarter than me to talk with about the idea. And the first person I called was Ramy … and I said, ‘Hey, Ramy, what do you think of this technology?’”

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Ma­gen­ta halts stem cell work and may sell it­self fol­low­ing pa­tient death, clin­i­cal hold

Magenta Therapeutics said it is halting work on its stem cell transplant drug pipeline and may sell itself, a week after the company reported the death of a patient in an early stage trial of its antibody-drug conjugate.

The Cambridge, MA-based company said it will conduct a “review of strategic alternatives,” and that could include an “acquisition, merger, business combination, or other transaction.”

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How to use ex­ter­nal con­trols: FDA spells out think­ing in new draft guid­ance

The use of real-world evidence to inform the FDA’s decision-making continues apace, with the agency releasing new draft guidance yesterday on how sponsors can compare outcomes of trial participants receiving a test treatment with outcomes in a group of people external to the trial.

The practice of externally controlled trials is common, particularly in oncology or other difficult areas where it’s not ethical or feasible to use internal controls.

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The Big Phar­ma axe: Mer­ck cuts chikun­gun­ya vax, Bris­tol My­ers drops Cy­tomX-part­nered pro­gram, and more

As fourth quarter earnings come in, Big Pharmas are disclosing changes to their pipelines during their investor calls, and sometimes more quietly in presentation appendices.

Merck dropped its chikungunya vaccine candidate, which completed a Phase II study. Merck acquired the vaccine through its purchase of Themis Bioscience in 2020. In developing a vaccine for chikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus, Valneva is the frontrunner, as it submitted its vaccine to the FDA at the end of December.

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