Johnson & Johnson's (NYSE: JNJ) earnings over the past few quarters have been like a sloth moving across the rainforest. Unfortunately, the first quarter of this year was pretty much more of the same.

Revenue was up 4%, but that was entirely because of changes in currency; at constant currency, revenue dropped ever so slightly. The culprit, as has been the case in previous quarters, was generic competition for epilepsy drug Topamax -- down 75% -- and antipsychotic Risperdal -- down 50%. Sales of pharmaceutical drugs fell 5.7% at constant currency despite strong performances from Remicade, which the company sells with Merck (NYSE: MRK); Velcade; and Risperdal Consta, the injectable version that uses Alkermes' (Nasdaq: ALKS) extended-release technology. The medical device division, on the other hand, continues to perform well -- up 8.1% excluding a gain from currency changes.

Earnings per share were up just 2.4% excluding a one-time gain from the company's patent settlement with Boston Scientific (NYSE: BSX). Johnson & Johnson's specialty has always been leveraging its size to grow earnings faster than revenue, but the recently passed health-care reform bill has thrown a kink into that plan. Like Eli Lilly (NYSE: LLY), which got dinged earlier in the week, Johnson & Johnson's margins will be hurt by new required discounts for Medicaid as the loss in revenue translates directly into a loss of profits. The changes will cost the company about $300 million this year.

It has been a rough year for Johnson & Johnson. Shares are up 26%, but that pales in comparison with the 45% rise that the S&P 500 has managed. Investors have enjoyed a solid dividend along the way, but a little growth thrown in would certainly be nice.

Fortunately, investors who have hung around long enough to see Johnson & Johnson through this transition period may finally get to see growth on the other side. Topamax first faced generic competition in March of last year, so future year-over-year comparisons will now reflect the decreased sales.

See you next quarter, Johnson & Johnson. By then I hope you've moved farther than a slow-moving mammal.

An earlier version of this article overstated the effect of additional Medicare expenses to earnings. The Fool regrets any misinterpretation.

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Fool contributor Brian Orelli, Ph.D., doesn't own shares of any company mentioned in this article. Motley Fool Options has recommended a buy calls position on Johnson & Johnson. The Fool has a disclosure policy.