Johnson & Johnson is a multinational corporation with a core focus on consumer-packaged goods (CPGs), pharmaceutical products, and medical devices.
With a headquarters in New Brunswick, New Jersey, Johnson & Johnson is one of only two American companies with a higher credit rating than the United States government.
Johnson & Johnson was founded in 1886 by brothers Edward Mead and James Wood Johnson.
Some of the company’s earliest products included medical guides and sterile surgical supplies with a company logo that closely resembles the one used today.
Some of these are described in the following sections.
Tylenol was first released in 1955 by pharmaceutical manufacturer McNeil Laboratories as an elixir for children. This was the first aspirin-free product to be released in the USA at the time.
The brand was acquired by Johnson & Johnson in 1959 and Tylenol was approved for sale without a prescription soon after.
Aveeno is a skin and hair care brand that was established in 1945 by brothers Sidney and Albert Musher.
Aveeno is known for the active ingredient colloidal oats which has anti-inflammatory properties that can treat eczema, psoriasis, and sunburn, among other skin conditions.
After Mayo Clinic dermatologists recognized the work of the Musher brothers in oat-based skincare, the brand was born.
This culture of research remains today as Johnson & Johnson continues to study Aveeno’s role in the microbial diversity of healthy skin.
Listerine is a mouthwash brand that was named after Joseph Lister, a pioneer of antiseptic surgery at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary.
Inspired by Lister’s work, American Dr. Joseph Lawrence created an alcohol-based concoction containing menthol, methyl salicylate, eucalyptol, and thymol – a proprietary compound whose composition remains a trade secret.
Johnson & Johnson acquired the Listerine brand in 2006 as part of the deal that saw it purchase Pfizer’s consumer healthcare division for $16.6 billion.
Band-Aid is an adhesive bandage product and one of the most recognized brands in the world.
The word “band-aid” has entered common language in many countries as a catch-all term for adhesive bandages, but it’s also used colloquially to describe a solution to a quick or superficial solution that does not address the root cause of a problem.
The first bandage was invented by Johnson & Johnson employee Earle Dickson in 1920 in response to his wife who frequently burned or cut herself in the kitchen.
Band-Aid products were initially handmade and not that successful before mass production and sterilization increased sales in the late 1930s.
In subsequent years, different NRT products have been released. These include oral sprays, tablets, inhalators, and lozenges.
Nicorette is still manufactured in Sweden by Johnson & Johnson subsidiary McNeil Consumer Healthcare.
History of Johnson & Johnson
Johnson & Johnson is a medical device, pharmaceutical, and CPG multinational that was founded by Robert, James, and Edward Johnson in 1886. Today, the company has around 250 subsidiaries and operates in more than 60 countries with sales in 2022 of $94.9 billion.
Robert Wood Johnson first developed an interest in healthcare during the American Civil War. Johnson understood that most of the 720,000 soldier deaths were caused by infection and disease that were themselves the result of poor hygiene standards in the operating room.
Johnson worked as a pharmaceutical apprentice for a time, and then in 1873, founded Seabury & Johnson with George Seabury. The company became known for its medicated mustard plasters which delivered pain relief to the skin via a sealed, adhesive bandage.
Johnson & Johnson is founded
In 1876, Johnson attended the World’s Fair in Philadelphia which also happened to be the largest assembly of medical professionals to date. There, he heard Dr. Joseph Lister speak about a radical new procedure known as antiseptic surgery and became convinced that it was the future of medicine.
Johnson parted ways with Seabury and started Johnson & Johnson with brothers Edward Mead and James Wood Johnson in 1886. The company was the first to mass-produce sterile surgical supplies, but it also produced household items and an instructional guide on how to perform sterile surgeries with its products.
Entitled The Modern Methods of Antiseptic Wound Treatment, the guide was distributed to over 85,000 doctors and pharmacists in 1888 and significantly advanced the healthcare industry as well as bolstering Johnson & Johnson’s reputation.
Early twentieth century
The company increased production to meet the demand for surgical products during World War I and also invented an early surgical mask in response to the 1918 influenza pandemic.
In 1920, inventor Earle Dickson combined Johnson & Johnson adhesive tape and gauze to create the now-iconic Band-Aid adhesive bandage. The product went on sale in 1921, which also coincided with the release of Johnson’s Baby Soap.
Johnson & Johnson goes public
Johnson & Johnson became a publicly traded company in 1944. It was also around this time that Robert Wood Johnson II (who had taken over as president in 1932) developed the company’s defining document known as “Our Credo”.
The 1950s and 60s were marked by a period of expansion. In 1956, the company established a presence in the Philippines and one in India the following year. It also acquired McNeil Laboratories (1959), Janssen Pharmaceuticals (1961), and healthcare technology company Codman & Shurtleff in 1965.
Over this period, the company was at the forefront of medical innovation. Some of its contributions include a vaccine to prevent hemolytic disease in babies, a tube test for anemia detection, an arterial graft for coronary bypass surgery, and, in 1987, the first disposable contact lenses.
After the fall of the USSR, Johnson & Johnson aggressively entered Europe and acquired some of its most recognizable brands. These include Motrin, Aveeno, Neutrogena, and Clean & Clear.
The company then acquired Pfizer’s consumer healthcare arm in 2006 for $16.6 billion and added brands such as Neosporin, Bengay, and Listerine to its portfolio. That same year, it released a protease inhibitor treatment for HIV sufferers.
Acquisitions continued over the 2010s – some of them significant. Johnson & Johnson acquired Abbott Medical Optics for $4.325 billion in 2017 to shore up its human vision division. This was followed by the gargantuan $30 billion acquisition of biotech company Actelion, with the company spinning off Actelion’s R&D unit into a separate company.
More recent purchases include Momenta Pharmaceuticals in 2020, and the $16.6 billion takeover of medical device technology company Abiomed Inc in November 2022. CEO Joaquin Duato noted that “We are excited to officially welcome the talented Abiomed team to Johnson & Johnson. Their patient-first philosophy aligns with Our Credo and Our Purpose to change the future of health for humanity.”
- Johnson & Johnson is a multinational corporation with a core focus on CPGs, pharmaceutical products, and medical devices.
- The Johnson & Johnson brand Tylenol was the first paracetamol-based painkiller in the United States. Aveeno is an oat-based skincare brand with considerable scientific backing and research.
- Some other Johnson & Johnson brands include Nicorette, Listerine, and Band-Aid, one of the most recognizable brands in the world.
- In 1876, Johnson attended the World’s Fair in Philadelphia and heard Dr. Joseph Lister speak about a radical new procedure known as antiseptic surgery. Convinced that it was the future of medicine, Johnson founded Johnson & Johnson with brothers Edward Mead and James Wood Johnson in 1886.
- Johnson & Johnson became a publicly traded company in 1944. It was also around this time that Robert Wood Johnson II (who had taken over as president in 1932) developed the company’s defining document known as “Our Credo”.
- The 1950s and 60s were marked by a period of expansion. The company established a presence in the Philippines in 1956 and one in India in 1957. It also acquired McNeil Laboratories (1959), Janssen Pharmaceuticals (1961), and healthcare technology company Codman & Shurtleff in 1965. Subsequent decades strengthened the company’s position in consumer healthcare and also yielded several important innovations.