Johnson & Johnson Subsidiary Sells American Rights to Opioid Painkiller for $1.05 Billion

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ–Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a unit of Johnson & Johnson (J&J) based in Titusville, announced on January 15 that it signed an agreement with a California-based specialty pharmaceutical company to sell its U.S. license rights to the painkiller Nucynta for $1.05 billion.

Janssen called the divestiture a strategic decision designed to focus efforts and resources on targeted growth priorities.

Depomed, Inc., a specialty company founded in 1995, is focused on developing and commercializing products to treat pain and other central nervous system conditions.

Officials there said the deal would make Nucynta the flagship asset in its growing portfolio of pain and neurology specialty pharmaceuticals.

"We believe that NUCYNTA is an ideal strategic fit for Depomed – a rare opportunity to add a proprietary, differentiated drug with a lengthy period of exclusivity that fits precisely into our therapeutic focus," said Jim Schoeneck, President and Chief Executive Officer of Depomed, in a prepared statement.

Janssen currently licenses the commercialization rights to Nucynta ER (tapentadol) extended-release tablets, Nucynta R, and Nucynta R oral solution from Grunenthal GmbH, but they will retain license rights in Canada, Japan, and a number of other countries, according to a news release.

Nucynta (tapentadol) is known as an opioid pain medication, sometimes called a narcotic, according to drugs.com.

"The makers of Nucynta and other opioids have drawn criticism from local governments warning about the potential for addiction," the Wall Street Journal reported.

“Janssen is named after Dr. Paul Janssen, a leading Belgian researcher, pharmacologist, and general practitioner,” according to their website.

“Dr. Janssen led a group of researchers to discover a medicine that helped change the way mental health patients were treated.”

Today, the company provides medicines for an array of health concerns in several therapeutic areas, including:

  • attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • general medicine (acid reflux disease, infectious diseases)
  • mental health (bipolar I disorder, schizophrenia)
  • neurologics (Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, migraine prevention and treatment)
  • pain management
  • women’s health

The deal between Janssen and Depomed is likely to be discussed during the upcoming J&J quarterly earnings call set for January 20.

On January 5, J&J announced that they were declaring a cash dividend for the first quarter of 2015 of $0.70 per share on the company's common stock, according to a news release.

“The dividend is payable on March 10, 2015 to shareholders of record at the close of business on February 24, 2015. The ex-dividend date is February 20, 2015,” the release added.

Dave is an award-winning business reporter who has authored over 200 articles for New Brunswick Today.