2. Johnson & Johnson

In recent years, Johnson & Johnson and its biopharma unit Janssen have won plaudits for innovation.

R&D budget (also includes device and consumer healthcare work): $9.09 billion ($7 billion for pharmaceuticals)
Change from 2015: Up 0.5%
Total 2016 revenue: $71.9 billion
R&D budget as percentage of revenue: 12.6% (10% for pharmaceuticals)

Johnson & Johnson, a major friend, investor and incubator in early-stage biotechs with big ideas, had one of the highest research budgets in dollar terms again last year, although the lowest in percentage terms among its Big Pharma peers, partly because it also has one of the highest revenues.

In recent years, Johnson & Johnson and its biopharma unit Janssen have won plaudits for innovation and won admiration in biotech circles with its JLABS project, which has created lab space, some investor funding and promises of potential future grants and licensing deals for early-stage companies looking to test out a wide range of innovative ideas.

Last year it expanded its JLABS empire, launching its first site outside the U.S. in Toronto, joining San Diego, San Francisco, Boston, Houston and early this year, New York.  

At the start of the new year Johnson & Johnson added 15 new deals to its list, now totaling over 300, as it looked to get its teeth into the lucrative NASH R&D race, with a pact and a potential buyout of Bird Rock Bio and its fatty liver candidate namacizumab.

It also set up a new collaboration with Medicines for Malaria Ventures, building on its vaccine work with GlaxoSmithKline, as well as a deal with Synthetic Genomics to develop a ribonucleic acid (RNA) technology that enables a tuneable, multigenic approach to elicit desired antigen expression and immune response for a variety of applications.

Also at the start of the year, J&J, after walking away once and seemingly set to lose out to Sanofi, came in and swooped up Actelion for $30 billion. The biotech spun out its R&D unit into a standalone company, basing and listing the new drugmaker in Switzerland and handing J&J a hefty minority stake.

In 2015, Johnson & Johnson said it wanted to submit to the FDA applications for 10 potential blockbusters by the end of 2019, with some of these centered around the hot new area of I-O (immuno-oncology).

Last year, in a conference call around its financials in October, the company’s global head of pharmaceutical R&D, William Hait, said the pharma has 15 immuno-oncology assets in development, including eight that are already in the clinic.

He said that last year, J&J had been investing in “four critical areas including vaccines, T cell checkpoint inhibitors, T cell redirection and myeloid mechanisms of action.”

In its marketed cancer meds, Johnson & Johnson also posted “standout” data in myeloma for Darzalex (daratumumab) as it looked to gain stronger sales from its big med. This also comes as it fights biosimilars to its blockbuster immunology drug Remicade (infliximab), which is already under pressure from cheaper versions of the biologic.

>> Check out Janssen’s pipeline (PDF).

2. Johnson & Johnson