Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) has been one of the most active players this year in the drug development space in the form of its biotech development unit, Janssen. Janssen has become a driving force as a licensee, leasing out promising early phase 1/2 candidates for development and go-to-market with worldwide rights, particularly in oncology. Tuesday was a big day for Janssen, with JNJ announcing FDA approval of Invokana and positive 96-week Symtuza data. But there was something else that you may have missed under the hood.

We have been writing about the possibility that the company’s CLA agreement with GERN was ditched due to other promising licenses on blood cancer drugs closer to market. One such example is the company’s deal with Genmab A/S (GNMSF) (Nasdaq Copenhagen:GEN) for development of daratumumab, which is now being evaluated in Phase 3 for multiple myeloma in combination with Celgene’s REVLIMID (lenalidomide) and dexamethasone to see if it is able to outperform current treatment programs involving REVLIMID and dexamethasone alone.

Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) has been relatively quiet about this project, though it was discussed on the company’s slideshow and conference call in mid-September.

Just yesterday, the company and Genmab announced that the study met the primary endpoint of improving progression-free survival (PFS) at a pre-planned interim analysis (Hazard Ratio (HR) = 0.55 (95% CI 0.43 – 0.72), p < 0.0001) resulting in a 45% reduction in the risk of progression or death in patients treated with DRd.

The median PFS for patients treated with daratumumab in combination with Rd has not been reached, compared to an estimated median PFS of 31.9 months for patients who received Rd alone.

“We are highly encouraged by this data as this is the fifth randomized study showing a profound benefit when adding daratumumab to standard of care treatments in multiple myeloma, and the second showing efficacy for patients with newly diagnosed multiple myeloma who are not eligible for ASCT. As such this data increases our hope that daratumumab may one day help even more patients at the outset of treatment of this disease,” said Jan van de Winkel, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer of Genmab.


The Big Picture

Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) shares took off to the upside on Tuesday in response to the bevy of catalysts. The stock continues to show relative strength. The appeal here is likely that it is a diversified staples stock as well as a thriving biotech growth play.

For a little background, this is one of the most diversified healthcare names in the space. The company researches and develops, manufactures, and sells various products in the health care field worldwide.

Its Consumer segment offers baby care products under the JOHNSON’S brand; oral care products under the LISTERINE brand; beauty products under the AVEENO, CLEAN & CLEAR, DABAO, JOHNSON’S Adult, LE PETITE MARSEILLAIS, NEUTROGENA, RoC, and OGX brands; over-the-counter medicines, including acetaminophen products under the TYLENOL brand; cold, flu, and allergy products under the SUDAFED brand; allergy products under the BENADRYL and ZYRTEC brands; ibuprofen products under the MOTRIN IB brand; and acid reflux products under the PEPCID brand.

This segment also provides women’s health products, such as sanitary pads under the STAYFREE and CAREFREE brands, and tampons under the o.b. brand; wound care products comprising adhesive bandages under the BAND-AID brand and first aid products under the NEOSPORIN brand.

The company’s Pharmaceutical segment offers various products in the areas of immunology, infectious diseases and vaccines, neuroscience, oncology, cardiovascular and metabolic, and pulmonary hypertension diseases.

Its Medical Devices segment provides orthopedic products; general surgery, biosurgical, endomechanical, and energy products; electrophysiology products to treat cardiovascular disease; sterilization and disinfection products to reduce surgical infection; diabetes care products that include blood glucose monitoring; and vision care products, such as disposable contact lenses and ophthalmic products related to cataract and laser refractive surgery.

The company markets its products to general public, retail outlets and distributors, wholesalers, hospitals, and health care professionals for prescription use, as well as for use in the professional fields by physicians, nurses, hospitals, eye care professionals, and clinics.

Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) generated sales of $20.3B, according to information released in the company’s most recent quarterly financial report. That adds up to a sequential quarter-over-quarter growth rate of -2.2% on the top line.

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