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How Johnson & Johnson became the sprawling healthcare giant it is today

(Reuters) – Johnson & Johnson plans to spin off its consumer health division that sells Listerine and Baby Powder to focus on pharmaceuticals and medical devices in the biggest shake-up in the U.S. company’s 135-year history.

FILE PHOTO: A first aid kit made by Johnson & Johnson for sale on a store shelf in Westminster, Colorado April 14, 2009. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

Here is how J&J got to where it is today.


Robert Wood Johnson partners with brothers James Wood Johnson and Edward Mead Johnson to found Johnson & Johnson in 1886. It originally focused on ready-to-use sterile surgical dressings.


J&J begins producing Johnson’s Baby Powder.


In response to a global flu pandemic, J&J begins selling a mask designed to limit the spread of the airborne viral illness.


J&J invents Band-Aid and begins marketing it in 1921.


J&J completes its initial public offering and becomes a publicly traded company. It had annual sales of around $95 million at the time, compared to more than $80 billion in 2020.


J&J acquires Tylenol maker McNeil Laboratories.


J&J acquires Janssen Pharmaceuticals, which now makes ADHD drug Concerta and J&J’s COVID-19 vaccine.


The first lawsuit alleging that J&J’s Baby Powder contains cancer-causing asbestos is filed against J&J. Since then, J&J has faced thousands of lawsuits and billions of liabilities and has ceased distributing Baby Powder in the United States and Canada.


J&J acquires Centocor Biotech Inc, maker of Remicade for Crohn’s disease, and renames it Janssen Biotech.


Johnson and Johnson acquires orthopedic device maker Synthes for nearly $20 billion to expand its medical product offerings.


J&J acquires Actelion for $30 billion, adding heart disease medicines such as Tracleer to its portfolio.


J&J begins developing a COVID-19 vaccine. It received authorization to begin administering its COVID-19 shot the following year.




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