J&J spotlights infectious diseases as pipeline priority

Johnson & Johnson is putting infectious diseases in the spotlight as it outlines ambitious plans to advance new therapies for the flu, HIV and hepatitis C. During its third-quarter review of the numbers for analysts, top execs at J&J left little doubt that recent moves on the contagious disease front will be followed up with plenty of new deals.

To make its case, J&J pointed to the recent buyout pact for Crucell, the maker of vaccines and a one-time partner in a program to develop a new universal flu jab. "We want to make Crucell the center for vaccines in our pharmaceuticals business," Chief Financial Officer Dominic Caruso told analysts yesterday. J&J already sells HIV therapies, and its licensing pact with Vertex on telaprevir gives the pharma company dibs on one of the hottest hepatitis C drugs in late-stage development.

J&J told analysts that the company has 13 drugs either up for an approval or getting close to a regulatory filing. Three of those drugs are up for an approval, two more should be filed in a matter of weeks and there are eight that are expected to land at regulatory agencies between 2011 and 2013. In addition to infectious diseases, J&J has been focused on cancer, neurological disorders and immunological conditions like rheumatoid arthritis.

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