J&J mulls switch from non-profit status for COVID jab

Johnson & Johnson has been offering its COVID-19 vaccine for sale on a no-profit basis since it became available, but is thinking about a possible switch to a standard commercial model next year or in 2023.

That was the position stated by J&J’s wordwide chair Jennifer Taubert on the company’s third-quarter results call yesterday, at which the company reported sales of $502 million for the Ad26.COV2.S vaccine for the three-month period.

“As we continue to work through and fulfil our existing contracts that we have throughout the globe – and as we move into more of a booster market in later 2022, potentially into 2023 – we’d be looking at moving into a more of a commercial market,” she said.

J&J’s vaccine is currently being provided under emergency use authorisations, and the pivot to a commercial model will depend on securing full approval, but Taubert indicated that regulatory filings are coming soon.

J&J is predicting that total sales of the shot should reach $2.5 billion for the full-year, in line with earlier estimates but indicating an acceleration in the coming months given that total turnover in 2021 so far is $766 million.

Last week, an FDA advisory committee voted unanimously to recommend emergency-use of a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine for adults aged 18 and older, which should help drive demand if the FDA follows its advice and approves the new use.

On the other hand, there have been suggestions that boosters may be offered with Moderna or Pfizer/BioNTech, as giving these as a second dose after the J&J primary stimulated higher antibody levels than a second dose of Ad26.COV2.S.

Overall sales at J&J rose just under 11% to $23.3 billion – a little below analyst forecasts – with prescription drug sales up nearly 14% to $13 billion.

Star performers were Tremfya (guselkumab) for psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, up 64% to $537 million in the quarter, as well as oncology stalwart Darzalex (daratumumab) which grew almost44% to $1.6 billion.

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