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J&J sees potential for 14 new multibillion-dollar drugs by 2025

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FILE PHOTO: The Johnson & Johnson logo is displayed on a screen on the floor of the NYSE in New York
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By Michael Erman and Julie Steenhuysen

(Reuters) - Johnson & Johnson expects to file for approval of 14 new drugs by 2025, and has projected average peak sales of $4 billion a year for each, a top J&J scientist said ahead of a strategy review of the company's pharmaceuticals unit on Thursday.

Among the top pipeline assets, Mathai Mammen, global head of research for J&J's Janssen pharmaceutical division, pointed to a drug combination for non-small cell lung cancer, an anticoagulant it is developing with partner Bristol Myers Squibb and a vaccine for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

J&J said last week that it plans to spin off its consumer health division that sells Listerine and Band-Aid bandages in order to focus on pharmaceuticals and medical devices in the biggest shakeup in the U.S. company's 135-year history.

Mammen in an interview said he did not think the transaction would change much in terms of research and development spending.

"We're really happy and proud of the way R&D is functioning - the strategy we're using and the level of investments," he said.

J&J developed one of the three COVID-19 vaccines authorized in the United States, but its use in the country tailed off sharply after rare cases of blood clotting were linked to the shot.

Nonetheless, Mammen said J&J still expects to develop more vaccines using the same adenovirus vector technology.

"It induces not just antibodies that tend to be relatively short-lived, but also good, multiple kinds of T-cells... so you have that really long-lasting benefit," Mammen said.

Mammen said the company was "actively looking" at a lot of different technology platforms, including messenger RNA, the backbone of the COVID-19 vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer and partner BioNTech

"We have several technologies right now, and we'll look at expanding that out further," he said.

(Reporting by Michael Erman in New Jersey and Julie Steenhuysen in Chicago; Editing by Bill Berkrot)

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