Johnson & Johnson gets profit boost from booming sales of hepatitis C drug

Earns Johnson and Johnson

]Johnson and Johnson products, including Band Aid brand adhesive bandages, arranged for a photo in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Oct. 16 2012. Photo Credit: AP / Chris O'Meara

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Johnson & Johnson's new hepatitis C drug Olysio is on the way to blockbuster sales in its first year, helping the drugmaker raise its 2014 earnings forecast for the second time this year.

Olysio was approved in November and generated sales of $831 million in the second quarter, leading New Brunswick, New Jersey-based J & J's 21 percent growth in its drug business, which has become the company's biggest unit.

Net income rose 13 percent to $4.3 billion, or $1.51 a share, from $3.8 billion, or $1.33 a share, a year earlier, the company said in a statement. Earnings excluding one-time items of $1.66 a share beat the $1.55 average of 16 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

J & J raised its adjusted earnings guidance for the year to $5.85 to $5.92 per share, up from $5.85 to $5.90 previously. Revenue was $19.5 billion, up 9 percent from a year before.

The health care company's growth continues to come from its drug unit as new launches have boosted revenue, while consumer products and medical devices are starting to expand again after struggling with quality issues and recalls.

Olysio is part of a new generation of drugs to treat the viral liver infection hepatitis C, and doctors are prescribing it with Gilead Sciences Inc.'s blockbuster, Sovaldi. The company's worldwide drug sales rose to $8.5 billion, led by the arthritis medicine Simponi, the prostate cancer drug Zytiga, blood thinner Xarelto, psoriasis treatment Stelara.

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Sales of consumer goods and over-the-counter medicines, including Tylenol and Motrin, returned to growth in the quarter, rising 2.4 percent to $3.74 billion from a year earlier. The medical device unit, now the company's second biggest division behind pharmaceuticals, saw revenue continue to stagnate, rising less than 1 percent, to $7.24 billion.

JNJ shares were down 1.3 percent at $103.98 in early trading Tuesday. The shares have risen 17 percent in the previous 12 months through Monday.

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