Thursday, May 1, 2008

Market trends - J+J woes lead to more cuts

Johnson & Johnson notified employees on Tuesday that it will consolidate the sales and marketing operations of two subsidiaries, Ortho Biotech and Centocor, leading to roughly 400 job cuts nationwide.

The move is a response to the declining sales of a class of anemia drugs that includes Johnson & Johnson's Procrit, a company spokesman said. Prescriptions for Procrit fell sharply last year after the Food and Drug Administration placed new safety warnings on the agents, known as erythropoiesis-stimulating agents.

The move is a response to the declining sales of its Procrit anemia drug, a spokesman told the New Jersey Star Ledger. Procrit prescriptions fell sharply last year after the FDA issued new safety warnings, which were also placed on anemia therapies sold by Amgen.

Earlier this year, an FDA panel recommended that current use should be restricted over concerns the drugs can increase the risk of tumor growth and death. The Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee (ODAC) did decide not to completely restrict the use in cancer patients, but recommended that anemia drugs should not be used in patients with metastatic breast cancer or cancer of the head and neck.

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