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Although its name is still perhaps most widely associated with babycare and Band-Aids, Johnson & Johnson has long been one of the world's biggest healthcare manufacturers, and got even bigger in 2006 with the purchase of the consumer health division of Pfizer. Yet despite that deal, consumer products are still the group's smallest segment (see Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health). The largest chunk of group revenues comes from pharmaceuticals (see Janssen Pharmaceuticals), including blockbusters such as Remicade, Stelara and Invega, followed by medical devices. In 2021, the group announced plans to spin off the Consumer Health as a separate company, most probably in early 2023. The group flavours a highly decentralised structure with a broad portfolio of multiple separately branded subsidiary businesses, operating as Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Depuy and Ethicon among many others, rather than under the Johnson & Johnson banner. Despite - or possibly because of - its size and standing, Johnson & Johnson has endured repeated challenges in recent years, especially in the US, as a result of a series of manufacturing problems and product recalls that tainted the reputations of several of its best-known consumer healthcare brands. In the early 2010s it was forced to withdraw several of its OTC medicines, including flagship brand Tylenol, over fears of accidental contamination. Shortly afterwards it settled a regulatory lawsuit over off-label promotions of prescription medicines and kickbacks to doctors and pharmacists for a massive $2.2bn, then the third largest pharmaceutical-related settlement in US history. Currently, the group is fighting several thousand lawsuits which allege that its talcum powder - a household staple for decades - causes ovarian cancer. Another ongoing battle claims that the group contributed to the US opioid crisis through mismarketing of certain pharmaceutical painkillers. Despite the group's various challenges, revenues edged up to a new high in 2021 of $93.8bn. Shrugging off the impact of the Covid pandemic, net earnings soared by more than 40% to $20.9bn. The pharmaceutical division - primarily Janssen Pharmaceuticals - accounted for well over half of group revenues, or $52.1bn, while medical devices contributed a further $27.1bn. This division houses a vast array of specialist firms manufacturing products including artificial hip, knee and shoulder joints, cardiovascular and other implants, all types of surgical tools, wound closure devices and countless other items. It also houses the world leading Vision Care business among whose brands are Acuevue contact lenses. Consumer healthcare supplied the remaining $14.6bn of group revenues. Despite J&J's global footprint, the US still accounts for more than half of group revenues. Longtime chairman & CEO Alex Gorsky handed over the latter role to his deputy Joaquin Duato at the end of 2021.
Capsule checked 6th February 2021
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Historical profile information for Johnson & Johnson
Marketer Moves 9th Dec 2021: New marketing chief at Johnson & Johnson. See Marketer Moves (members only).
Adbrands Daily Update 18th Nov 2021: Johnson & Johnson announced plans to spin off its Consumer Health division as a separate public company, most probably in early 2023. Further details will be decided during the course of 2022.
Marketer Moves 20th Aug 2021: New CEO at Johnson & Johnson. See Marketer Moves (members only).
Adbrands Daily Update 22nd Jul 2021: Johnson & Johnson joined with America's three largest pharmaceutical wholesalers in a $26bn settlement with seven US states to fund social services to address the effects of opioid addiction. The deal will draw a line under thousands of pending lawsuits. Other US states are invited to join the settlement to receive a share of the fund. The amount could reduce if not enough states participate. J&J will contribute $5bn over a period of nine years, while the three distributors will share the remaining $21bn over 18 years. J&J also pledged not to re-enter the opioid business for at least a decade. The deal follows two years of negotiations with state attorneys general.
Adbrands Daily Update 24th Jun 2020: An appeals court reduced the amount Johnson & Johnson must pay to a group of 22 women who suffered ovarian cancer after using the company's talcum powder, but castigated the healthcare giant for its "outrageous" and "reprehensible" behaviour. The original 2018 judgement awarded collective compensation and punitive damages of $4.7bn to the women. The appeals judges reduced that sum to $2.1bn, but agreed that the plaintiffs had "proved with convincing clarity that defendants engaged in outrageous conduct because of an evil motive or reckless indifference." They noted that Johnson & Johnson had "discussed the presence of asbestos in their talc in internal memoranda for several decades; avoided adopting more accurate measures for detecting asbestos and influenced the industry to do the same; attempted to discredit those scientists publishing studies unfavorable to their products; and did not eliminate talc from the products and use cornstarch instead because it would be more costly to do so."
Adbrands Daily Update 20th May 2020: Though it continues to deny its talcum powder causes cancer, Johnson & Johnson said it will withdraw the current product altogether in the US and Canada. "Demand for talc-based Johnson's Baby Powder in North America has been declining due in large part to changes in consumer habits and fuelled by misinformation around the safety of the product and a constant barrage of litigation advertising," said the company in a statement. The number of lawsuits facing the company in the US over its talc surpassed 19,400 in April. Instead it will sell an alternative version of Johnson's Baby Powder made from corn starch. It will still sell Baby Powder outside North America made from a mix of talc and corn starch.
Adbrands Daily Update 30th Oct 2019: Curiouser and curiouser! After subsequent investigation, no traces of asbestos were found in the bottle of Johnson & Johnson talcum powder said a week ago by the FDA to have tested positive for the substance. Two third-party labs conducts 15 tests on that same bottle, and another 48 tests on random samples from the 33,000 other bottles in the same lot. No asbestos was found. However, a portable air conditioner hired by one of the labs was found to be contaminated with the potentially carcinogenic material. "Rigorous and third-party testing confirms there is no asbestos in Johnson's Baby Powder," said the company in a statement. "We stand by the safety of our product."
Adbrands Daily Update 21st Oct 2019: Johnson & Johnson's defence case suffered a serious blow after the US FDA found sub-traces of asbestos in a single canister of talcum powder subjected to routine testing. The company has withdrawn the entire batch from which it derived, comprising around 33,000 bottles. After years insisting on the safety of the product, this is the first time J&J has ever pulled any quantity of its talc off-sale. It is already facing lawsuits from what are now in excess of 15,500 plaintiffs over claims that its talc, a household staple for decades, can cause ovarian and other cancers. The company's main line of defence has revolved around the argument it has never detected asbestos in its own tests in over 40 years. The sample in question was found in a canister purchased from an unnamed online retailer. J&J has launched its own investigation to determine whether the sample was taken from a bottle with its seal still intact, and whether the product tested was authentic or counterfeit.
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