* Pharmaceutical drug sales jump 9.2 pct
* U.S. Remicade sales rise 9.4 pct (Adds CFO comment, context on Remicade patent battle with Pfizer)
By Ransdell Pierson
Oct 18 (Reuters) - Johnson & Johnson on Tuesday reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit and said its phamaceutical business will keep prospering despite the threatened launch of a competitor for its blockbuster Remicade arthritis drug.
Pfizer Inc late on Monday said it would begin U.S. shipments of Inflectra, its biosimilar form of Remicade, by late November at a 15 percent discount to J&J’s current wholesale prices. With annual U.S. sales of about $5 billion, Remicade is J&J’s biggest product.
Biosimilar drugs are close copies intended to provide savings compared with costly branded products. Inflectra is already available in Europe.
“We are confident our pharma business will go well with or without (the) biosimilar launch,” J&J Chief Financial Officer Dominic Caruso said Tuesday in an interview on CNBC.
J&J is appealing an August federal court decision that invalidated a U.S. Remicade patent, setting the stage for a February court battle with Pfizer. Should Pfizer launch Inflectra and later lose the court fight, that could entitle J&J to triple damages.
“We will continue the appeal process, and feel very good about it,” Caruso told CNBC.
In the third quarter, J&J revenue rose to $17.82 billion from $17.10 billion a year earlier.
Its pharmaceutical sales jumped 9.2 percent to $8.40 billion, with strong growth for its Imbruvica and Darzalex cancer drugs and its blood thinner Xarelto. U.S. sales of Remicade jumped 9.4 percent to $1.22 billion.
Global medical device sales rose 1.1 percent to $6.16 billion in the quarter, while consumer product sales fell 1.6 percent to $3.26 billion.
J&J raised the lower end of its full-year 2016 profit forecast to $6.68 per share, from $6.63 a share. It retained the upper end at $6.73 per share.
The company’s net earnings rose to $4.27 billion, or $1.53 per share, in the third quarter, from $3.36 billion, or $1.20 per share, a year earlier.
Excluding special items, J&J earned $1.68 per share.
Analysts on average had expected a profit of $1.66 per share and revenue of $17.74 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Up to Monday’s close, J&J’s shares had gained about 15 percent since the start of the year, compared with the 3.7 percent decline in the S&P 500 healthcare sector. (Additional reporting by Natalie Grover in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and W Simon)