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Robert Wood Johnson began his professional training at age 16 as a pharmaceutical apprentice. Less than 15 years later, in 1886, having developed a new kind of medical dressing with his brothers, he established a company through which to sell it: Johnson & Johnson.
Soon, the company amassed a team of 15 to manufacture and sell surgical supplies, including sutures, absorbent cotton and gauze. In 1888, it published its first medical guide, “Modern Methods of Antiseptic Wound Treatment”, distributing 85,000 copies to doctors and pharmacists across the USA. By 1894, Johnson & Johnson employed more than 400 staff across 14 locations and began producing its game-changing product, Johnson’s Baby Powder. The rest, as they say, is history.
Today, Johnson & Johnson is one of the largest pharmaceuticals and consumer goods companies in the world, with operations spanning 250 subsidiaries in 60 countries. Its products are now sold in 175 countries, generating annual income of more than USD 90bn.
Over the years, the company has launched many more household name products, including the original Band-Aid, Neutrogena skincare, Tylenol medications, and Acuvue contact lenses. Alongside consumer products, Johnson & Johnson offers a vast MedTech, orthopaedics and surgical equipment portfolio. Its notable products include sutures, staplers, energy devices, haemostats and surgical robotics.
Behind the company’s ongoing success stories is continuous innovation. In 2022, Johnson & Johnson invested over USD 14bn on research and development programmes, among the highest in its industry and a significant increase on the USD 7.6bn spent ten years previously.