NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Big Pharma giant Johnson and Johnson is holding its annual shareholder meeting on this morning amid protests over the company's pelvic mesh implants at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in New Brunswick.
The protests began with a press conference call at 11 am on April 23rd, where survivors of the mesh implants, along with supporters of those survivors explained their request for a congressional investigation.
The activists accuse Johnson and Johnson of destroying thousands of papers concerning women affected by the pelvic implants. Among the activists were Linda Wilcox, Estelle Tasz, Gay Courter, Robert Fish McClenny, and Teresa Sawyer.
The "survivors" gathered at the corner of Neilson and Church streets at around 8 pm on April 23, with the intent of projecting images onto buildings in protest of Johnson and Johnson's paper-shredding, starting with a location "two blocks to the north of the assembly point". This would put the first projection point on the Johnson and Johnson campus, on Johnson Drive.
The protesters also held a press conference at 8:30 AM, in front of the shareholders' meeting, and they intended to speak to the shareholders themselves at 10:00 AM. The survivors told of their highly intimate stories of hurt and made a plea to the executives of Johnson and Johnson to hold an internal investigation of the company's shredding of women's health papers.
The meeting is being webcast live at www.jnj.com, for the benefit of anyone who might be interested, including investors and the press. A replay of the presentations made at the meeting will be put up on the website a few hours after the conference, and will be available to view for three months.
The shareholder meeting even has a Twitter hashtag picked out for it, #JNJASM14.
Johnson & Johnson, which is the world’s largest maker of health care products, recently announced a rise in profit, for the first quarter of 2014, of 8 percent. The company reported $18.1 billion in sales, 3.5 percent more than the first quarter of last year.
J&J attributes the increase in profit, and the greater productivity of its sales, to its ability to keep costs in check, along with a “big jump” in prescription drug sales. Some over-the-counter products also helped, with Aveeno and Dabao skin lotions, Listerine mouthwash, and Zyrtec allergy pills contributing.
Prescription drugs helping to fuel the J&J boom included Stelara psoriasis medicine, Invega Sustenna/Xeplion schizophrenia treatements, Prezista anti-HIV pills, and Velcade multiple-myeloma treatment. (Multiple myeloma is a cancer that affects blood plasma.)
Johnson and Johnson has also debuted Zytiga, a medicine for patients whose prostate cancer has stubbornly spread all over their bodies, the Xarelto blood thinner, and the Invokana drug for people with type 2 diabetes, along with Olysio medicine for adults with hepatitis C. Those drugs have all sold strongly.
On the minus side, Johnson and Johnson has lost a couple of their drug monopolies, due to the expiration of patents. ADHD drug Concerta may now have generic competitors, and so might the Aciphex drug for people's intestinal systems. (Aciphex pills are powerful remedies for chronic, long-term heartburn and similar diseases.)
"Johnson & Johnson delivered strong first-quarter results driven by successful new product launches and the continued growth of key products," said Alex Gorsky, chairman and chief executive officer.
"Our talented colleagues around the world continue to bring meaningful innovations to patients and customers, addressing significant unmet needs. We also advanced our near-term priorities and long-term growth drivers, positioning us well to deliver sustainable results."
As the Baby Boom generation gets older and healthcare needs increase, the healthcare industry itself has been booming. While this boom has its limits, the industry likely will continue to grow as people live longer, insurance covers more people, and the world's population continues to grow.
Even with the anticipated gains, companies can still pull surprises. In Johnson and Johnson's case, revenue was $80 million higher than analysts expected – up 3.5 percent to $18.12 billion for the first-quarter.
J&J raised its profit forecast for 2014 by a nickel per share, from its January high of $5.85 per share to a new prediction of $5.90 per share.
Johnson and Johnson has been in New Brunswick since 1886, when James Wood Johnson and Edward Mead Johnson set up shop on the fourth floor of a factory. Robert Wood Johnson I financed the new business and became its head.
Johnson and Johnson remained a privately-owned family business until it went public in 1944, listing its stock on the New York Stock Exchange.
Members of the Johnson family played a leading role in the company into the 1960s. In 1962, then-chairman of the board Robert Wood Johnson II fired his nephew; a few years later, he fired his son, who was president of the company.
RWJ II died in 1968 and was succeeded by Philip B. Hofmann in 1963, beginning a new era of non-family-members in charge at Johnson and Johnson.
It was around that time that Johnson and Johnson tore down its old factory and erected a new office building in the Georgian style on its site. Johnson and Johnson added an I.M. Pei-designed tower to serve as its new worldwide headquarters in the 1980s.
Among the company's signature products are the Band-Aid and Johnson's Baby Shampoo. Johnson and Johnson has spawned or acquired a flock of more than 275 subsidiaries, and the health-care giant has 128,700 employees.