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Earnings Preview: J&J To Cite Deals, Drugs Okayed

LINDA A. JOHNSON

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) â¿¿ Health care giant Johnson & Johnson likely will discuss its pipeline, recent drug approvals and several important deals when it reports its third-quarter results before the stock market opens Tuesday.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Executives will tout progress addressing problems behind an embarrassing string of product recalls that's hurt J&J's revenue and image, and their plans to get some of J&J's many recalled consumer health products back on the market. Last month, J&J said it resumed shipping Tylenol Cold & Flu Severe caplets, just ahead of cold season.

Since September 2009, the company has issued more than 25 recalls, including a few prescription medicines, contact lenses and defective hip replacements, for reasons ranging from improper potency to glass or metal shards in liquid medicines. The latest recall, on Sept. 23, affected 200,000 syringes of anemia drug Eprex sold outside the U.S., because of inconsistent potency.

The company may give updates on several pending deals.

Its biggest acquisition ever â¿¿ $21.3 billion to buy U.S.-Swiss medical device maker Synthes Inc. and boost its position in the growing market for orthopedic surgery products â¿¿ is still expected to close in the first half of 2012.

In late September, J&J paid $175 million to buy out Merck & Co.'s half interest in their 22-year-old joint venture, Johnson & Johnson-Merck Consumer Pharmaceuticals Co., which sells over-the-counter versions of former prescription drugs, including stomach medicines Pepcid, Mylanta and Mylicon. J&J will rename the business McNeil Consumer Pharmaceuticals Co.

A $345 million agreement to sell dermatology businesses that make products including wrinkle and acne cream Retin-A to Canada's Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. is still expected to close by year-end, although the Federal Trade Commission has asked for more information. And J&J's Ethicon Endo-Surgery business agreed in late September to buy privately held SterilMed Inc. It repairs and sterilizes used medical devices such as those made by J&J's biggest division, medical devices and diagnostics.

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