J&J’s Medical Device Sales Feel the Side Effects of Weight-Loss Drugs 

Riding high, Johnson & Johnson reported pharmaceutical sales worth $13.89 billion on Tuesday (Oct 17), a year-over-year growth exceeding 5%. 

The pharmaceuticals driving its growth are Darzalex, a biologic used for multiple myeloma, and Erleada, a prostate cancer treatment, in addition to several other oncology therapies. 

Additionally, the widely used medication Stelara, which addresses various immune-mediated inflammatory conditions, contributed over 20% at $2.86 billion. The company’s COVID-19 vaccine is not included in the $13.89 billion figure. 

The company observed that the rise in sales was somewhat offset by a decline in the sales of its prostate cancer medication Zytiga and the blood cancer drug Imbruvica. 

J&J’s COVID-19 vaccine had a dampening effect on pharmaceutical sales growth as well. This marked the second consecutive quarter without any U.S. sales from J&J’s COVID-19 vaccine, which generated $41 million in international revenue. 

Meanwhile, the company’s medical devices division reported a rise in sales to $7.46 billion, reflecting a 10% increase from the third quarter of 2022. 

J&J attributed the year-over-year increase to its acquisition of Abiomed, a cardiovascular medical technology firm, in December. 

J&J stated that the growth stemmed from electrophysiological products, which assess the heart’s electrical system and aid physicians in diagnosing irregular heart rhythms. Additionally, contributions came from wound closure products, devices for orthopedic trauma (treating severe injuries to the skeletal or muscular system) and contact lenses. 

Convenience Fuels Growth

According to PYMNTS, there is a wave of healthcare solutions, such as digital pharmacies, that are transforming how consumers access and handle medications. This transformation is ushering in an unmatched level of convenience, accessibility and efficiency in medication management. 

Alto Pharmacy and Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drug Company announced on Monday (Oct. 16) an extension of their services to offer hundreds of cost-effective medications for both delivery and pickup to customers residing in metropolitan areas where Alto has set up facilities. 

In this collaboration, users of Team Cuban Card can easily place their medication orders via Alto’s website or patient app. Patients will reportedly have the choice to select courier delivery for their medications, which will be available at the Team Cuban Card price, along with a delivery fee.  

According to the PYMNTS Intelligence-Lynx report titled “The Digital Platform Promise: What Baby Boomers and Seniors Want From Digital Healthcare Platforms,” consumers are adopting digital avenues for their healthcare requirements. In fact, in the past year, almost two-thirds of baby boomers and seniors have engaged in digital healthcare activities. 

Consumers expressed a strong preference for using digital healthcare platforms for specific prescription-related responsibilities. Notably, baby boomers and seniors exhibited an interest in several categories, surpassing the interest levels of their younger counterparts. 

Ninety percent of baby boomers and seniors expressed a preference for digital platforms when refilling prescriptions, and the 87% favored these platforms for allowing doctors to transmit prescriptions. 

Moreover, nearly 80% of consumers who exhibit even a minor interest in using integrated digital healthcare platforms would opt for online pharmacy access through these platforms.  

Weight-Loss Drugs Impact J&J’s Medtech Division

J&J announced a two-year restructuring initiative for its orthopedics division due to lower-than-expected third-quarter medical devices sales, which mirrors the company’s streamlined focus following the separation of its consumer health unit. 

As part of the restructuring program, J&J intends to withdraw from specific markets and discontinue the sale of certain orthopedic products. 

J&J’s medical device unit reported sales totaling $7.46 billion. In the third quarter, the company’s orthopedic division represented about 29% of its medical device sales. 

Furthermore, the sales of the company’s devices used in abdominal surgeries fell. This decline was attributed to a slowdown in procedures such as bariatric surgery, as many obese patients opted for popular weight-loss medications like Novo Nordisk’s Wegovy and Ozempic. 

These medications may ultimately lead patients toward other procedures involving J&J products. Individuals who are obese and initially ineligible for orthopedic procedures, hip and knee replacements, or specific cardiovascular interventions, could potentially be suitable for these treatments later on.  

In June, a PYMNTS report highlighted the breakthrough GLP-1 drugs represented for patients. However, it also pointed out the impact on the weight loss industry, encompassing clinics, apps, meals, and subscriptions. These sectors were witnessing customer attrition as more people achieve their weight-loss goals without classes, specialized diet plans, or subscriptions. 

In fact, Market Data LLC, a research firm that monitors the diet industry, reported that the U.S. weight-loss business generated $75 billion in sales in 2022, a 15% increase since 2020. Their website also noted  the industry’s challenge of meeting the high demand for new obesity drugs like Wegovy and Saxenda. 

Read more: Ozempic and GLP-1 Drugs Shift Weight Loss Scale Toward Medicine 

Taking these factors into consideration, J&J has updated its projections. It now anticipates 2023 sales ranging from $83.6 billion to $84 billion, which is a slight adjustment from the previous guidance of $83.2 billion to $84 billion provided in August.