J&J sets goal to become $60 billion a year drugmaker

The heavyweight pharma plans to take on viruses that have long challenged vaccine developers such as RSV.

J&J has set a high target for itself, to become a $60 billion-a-year drugmaker by 2025. To achieve that goal, the healthcare company is looking to tackle a couple of viruses that have long defied vaccine developers. Following the news that the consumer health business would be spun out, the company provided investors a broad look at its pipeline. Its pharma unit Janssen is among the many Big Pharmas expecting a big year in 2022 for respiratory syncytial virus. The company recently released some preliminary findings on the antiviral treatment rilematovir, which showed modest clinical activity in nonhospitalized patients in a Phase II trial. In October, J&J announced that their RSV vaccine candidate provided 80 percent protection against lower respiratory tract infections in persons over 65.

The vaccine is now being tested in a Phase III trial called EVERGREEN in adults over 60 who have a high risk for comorbidities. Janssen pharmaceutical unit’s new vaccine R&D chief Penny Heaton, M.D., said J&J will differentiate its RSV vaccine by demonstrating high efficacy and engagement of both antibodies and T cells, which are crucial to building a solid immune defence. RSV has eluded several vaccinations attempts in the past, but Heaton states that the technology has progressed to the point that the industry will soon be able to give a shot to prevent serious illness caused by the virus. Other vaccines Heaton will oversee in her new role include an Escherichia coli shot in development to prevent illness from the usually harmless but sometimes harmful bacteria.