J&J taps top blockbusters in the pipeline, lays out global R&D strategy

Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) built its R&D rep around blockbuster development deals. Now the pharma giant's drug development arm wants the world to know that there's a comprehensive, global pipeline strategy in play that will deliver more than 10 new product applications over the next four years. And new drug development efforts in China and Japan are growing to rival the work it does in the U.S. and Europe.

J&J counted 11 new product launches over the past four years, with Zytiga taking the prostate cancer market by storm. Now it's anticipating near-term approvals on simeprevir for hepatitis C, with applications in Japan, Europe and in the U.S, its "breakthrough" drugs ibrutinib and daratumumab for the treatment of hematologic malignancies, as well as sirukumab and guselkumab for important immune mediated diseases. The company also plans to swiftly advance its antidepressant esketamine, a version of ketamine, after being wowed by some of the academic studies completed on the anesthetic (see related story).

J&J has an aggressive plan for the Pacific Rim, with three NMEs and three brand line extensions in registration in Japan while Janssen sets the stage to file two additional NMEs and 6 brand line extensions by 2017. In China, four NMEs and four line extensions are currently in registration, and Janssen plans to file 9 NMEs and 6 brand line extensions by 2017.

J&J spent $7.6 billion on research last year, the fifth highest in the biopharma business. That money helped push along the final development of Zytiga, the diabetes drug Invokana (canagliflozin) and Sirturo--which helps represent what sets J&J aside from your average Big Pharma player. J&J knows how to bet big--and wisely. So when it bought out Cougar Biotechnology, the R&D group was on a short path to a big approval. And there are quite a few analysts who believe its big bet on Pharmacyclics' ($PCYC) ibrutinib will follow the same path. With four new innovation centers being established in London, Boston, San Francisco/San Diego and Shanghai, the pharma giant believes it has the network in place to absorb a steady stream of new technologies from the global biotech community.

"Our investment in transformational innovation has enabled strong growth that has allowed us to continue investing in our future portfolio," said Paul Stoffels, the CSO and worldwide chairman of the pharmaceuticals group. "With a steadfast focus on the most serious unmet medical needs, our approach is to identify the best science--internal and external--to deliver new options and solutions to patients. Today, we have an industry-leading pipeline of truly differentiated products and a track record of success resulting in more new molecular entity approvals per year at a lower development cost than the industry average."

- here's the press release

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