UPDATED: J&J is on a roll as drug deals deliver blockbuster approvals

J&J never has won much praise for its science. The pharma giant, though, can spot a promising treatment in the pipeline, which it proved two years ago when it paid a billion dollars to buy up Cougar and its late-stage cancer drug abiraterone, which was recently approved at the FDA. That approval was followed up quickly by the agency's OK of Edurant last week, a new AIDS drug that will be slotted into cocktail therapies now in use. And there are two more late-stage products in the pipeline that may go even further to demonstrate J&J's skills in the art of deal making.

J&J nabbed European rights to telaprevir, a mega-promising hepatitis C drug from Vertex that gained FDA approval today with a European OK expected to follow. And then there's Xarelto, the blood thinner partnered with Bayer.

"They've placed a lot of big bets and four of them are coming in," Christopher Molloy, former J&J researcher and now dean of Rutgers University's School of Pharmacy, tells Bloomberg. "What J&J has been very nimble at is identifying good prospects and bringing them along."

Bloomberg did the math on sales projections on all four drugs and came up with $9 billion in projected peak sales for all four, a hefty sum to help ease the nasty string of product recalls on J&J's troubled manufacturing side of the business.

"Saying you have a great pipeline and taking credit for a drug you didn't develop is really like saying, ‘we have a lot of cash and we have an ability to identify other people's good science,'" Credit Agricole Securities analyst David Maris tells the business news service. That's true, but there are plenty of Big Pharma companies out there which have spent as much as J&J on drug deals without having nearly as much to show for it.

- here's the article from Bloomberg

Special Report: Johnson & Johnson - The world's biggest R&D spenders

Editor's Note: This story was updated late this morning to include the news that the FDA has approved Vertex's telaprevir.

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