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Johnson & Johnson's stranglehold on a blockbuster drug

Data: Company documents; Chart/Axios Visuals

Sales of Remicade, Johnson & Johnson's blockbuster drug that treats autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, are declining. But the drug still controls more than 90% of the market and commands a high U.S. price tag even though cheaper versions have existed for almost 3 years.

The bottom line: Biosimilar competition for Remicade "is essentially a failed market," Bernstein pharmaceutical analyst Ronny Gal wrote in a note to investors on Tuesday.

Driving the news: Biosimilars have fared much better in Europe, especially for Remicade competitors.

  • Remicade's price has fallen 21% in the U.S. since cheaper alternatives have been approved, but its price has dropped 74% in European countries, according to Bernstein.
  • Meanwhile, many U.S. hospitals that administer Remicade don't offer a biosimilar.
  • A lawsuit from Pfizer, which makes a Remicade competitor, alleges Johnson & Johnson has made sweetheart deals with health insurers to prefer Remicade.

Looking ahead: "We expect adoption to remain sluggish," Gal wrote.

Go deeper: Biosimilars have failed to take off