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J&J plans blockbuster lineup to revive momentum in drug sales

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(Bloomberg) — Johnson & Johnson plans to seek regulatory approval for more than 10 new drugs by 2019 with potential annual sales of more than $1 billion apiece, reigniting a pharmaceutical unit whose results have dragged amid stiffer competition.

The medications will focus on five areas: immunology; infectious diseases and vaccines; neuroscience; cardiovascular and metabolism; and oncology, the world’s biggest maker of health care products said in a statement. The company holds a meeting with investors Wednesday in New Brunswick, N.J.

The potential blockbusters in the pipeline could help J&J regain some momentum in its biggest division. Analysts estimate J&J’s sales of new drugs — approved in 2009 or after — will climb 8 percent a year through 2020 — about one-third the median rate of its competitors, according to Bloomberg Intelligence.

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The growth is being dragged down by hepatitis C treatment Olysio, whose sales are declining as better medications enter the market. Remicade, an arthritis treatment that’s J&J’s top-selling product, is under competitive threat from a copycat drug by Celltrion Inc. and Hospira Inc.

J&J has counted on diabetes treatment Invokana to propel the growth of its drug division, with sales climbing 38 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier.

Among the drugs J&J has under development are daratumumab, a treatment for the blood cancer multiple myeloma that is on the FDA’s fast track for approval. Esketamine, for depression, and ARN-509, for prostate cancer, are in clinical trials.

J&J’s drug unit isn’t the only part of the company that has struggled. Sales in the consumer division, which makes over-the-counter products like Tylenol and Motrin, fell 4.7 percent last quarter from a year earlier to $3.39 billion. Revenue for the medical-device business, which has been under pressure from cost-cutting by insurers and hospitals, dropped 11 percent to $6.26 billion.

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