Sales for the quarter fell by a total of 7.4 percent, down from $16.45bn in the corresponding period last year, to reach $15.24bn.
The fall in sales meant that revenue fell by 3.6 percent, down from $3.33bn to $3.32bn, a figure that beat Wall Street analysts’ expectations.
The company said it had helped to cushion the big fall in sales by cutting back spending on sales, administration and research by approximately 13 percent, at the same time as shaving 6 percent off production costs.
Pharmaceuticals suffer from patent problems
Breaking the sales revenue down the company’s mainstay pharmaceutical business saw sales slide by 13.3 percent to reach $5.50bn, a figure that was impacted by both negative currency impact and the loss of two medicine patent protections.
The loss of the patents was estimated to have impacted results during the quarter by at least $1bn.
Consumer sales, which encompasses personal care brands such as Listerine and J&J baby care products, faired better, with quarterly sales falling by 4.5 percent, down from $4.04bn in the corresponding quarter last year, to reach $3.85bn.
A difficult year for the company
Sales of medical devices, the company’s third division, fell by 3.1 percent during the quarter to reach $5.9bn.
“This was one of the most difficult years in our history,” said Dominic Caruso, company CFO during a conference call to analysts about the results.
William Weldon, CEO, said that the company had delivered solid operational results “in light of the significant impacts of patent expirations and the economic environment.”