With first-quarter earnings and post-ASCO excitement over, we're at the time when many pharmaceutical companies host R&D days to discuss the future prospects of their drug development programs. On Thursday, Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) held an analyst meeting to discuss its pharmaceutical segment and show how it will maintain its $23 billion in pharmaceutical sales in the future.

Key to JNJ's future is its late-stage pipeline, which consists of many drug candidates to treat blockbuster indications. Most exciting are the infectious disease compounds like telaprevir, created by Vertex Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:VRTX), and JNJ's two phase 3 HIV compounds. The HIV drugs, which should both be in phase 3 studies sometime this year, are supposed to have similar efficacy to current near billion-dollar drugs like Bristol-Myers' (NYSE:BMY) Sustiva. Another compound to watch for is the thrombosis drug rivaroxaban that Johnson & Johnson is developing with Bayer (NYSE:BAY). After fairly successful phase 2 testing, the first phase 3 results will be out later this year. Besides telaprevir, rivaroxaban is the most innovative of the JNJ pipeline compounds. Interestingly, all of the above-mentioned drugs come from Johnson & Johnson partnerships or acquisitions.

As for its marketed drugs, JNJ's pharmaceutical segment sales gained 11% in the first quarter of 2007 after a 4% rise for all of 2006. Its pharma sales could come under pressure due to all of the negativity surrounding its second-best seller, Procrit. The company's top drug, Risperdal Consta, will lose patent protection next year, opening the door for generic competitors. Together these two compounds accounted for nearly a third of JNJ's pharmaceutical sales last year.

The good news for Johnson & Johnson investors is that the rest of its pharmaceutical segment is healthy. Topamax should remain on its blistering double-digit annual sales growth rate and could possibly be the third highest-grossing drug for JNJ by the end of the year. Even in the face of increased competition from Abbott Laboratories' (NYSE:ABT) Humira, Remicade sales are holding up -- albeit at a much reduced growth rate.

While there are concerns about other parts of Johnson & Johnson (for example, its medical device segment), its pharmaceutical division has a robust pipeline of compounds in development that should pay off in the long haul. However, investors should still be prepared for some near-term bumpiness with its top-selling drugs.  

Johnson & Johnson is an Income Investor recommendation, and Vertex Pharmaceuticals is a Rule Breakers selection. You can try any of our newsletters for free with a 30-day trial.

Fool contributor Brian Lawler does not own shares of any company mentioned in this article. The Fool has a disclosure policy.