Backstage at Johnson & Johnson
On May 20, about 100 stock analysts gathered in the ballroom of the Hyatt Regency Hotel in New Brunswick, New Jersey, to hear good news from top executives at Johnson & Johnson: The company had 10 new drugs in the pipeline that might achieve more than a billion dollars in annual sales.
For 129 years, New Brunswick has served as the headquarters of J&J, America’s seventh most valuable public company. With consumer products from Band-Aids to baby powder, Neutrogena to Rogaine, Listerine to Visine, Aveeno to Tylenol and Sudafed to Splenda, Johnson & Johnson is the biggest and, according to multiple surveys, most admired corporation in the world’s most prosperous industry—healthcare.
But the real money—about 80 percent of its revenue and 91 percent of its profit—comes not from those consumer favorites, but from Johnson & Johnson’s high-margin medical devices: artificial hips and knees, heart stents, surgical tools and monitoring devices; and from still higher-margin prescription drugs targeting Crohn’s disease (Remicade), cancer (Zytiga, Velcade), schizophrenia (Risperdal), diabetes (Invokana), psoriasis (Stelara), migraines (Topamax), heart disease (Xarelto) and attention deficit disorder (Concerta).
Ads for many of these products dominate our television screens and magazine pages. Each drug relies on its own elaborate marketing plan and carefully pitched promotional materials, used by hundreds of salespeople whose incomes turn on how much product they can push to the thousands of doctors who write prescriptions. All command increasing portions of our health insurance premiums and our own wallets, as well as our hopes and anxiety when we or our loved ones fall ill.
What follows is the backstage story of how an iconic company marketed a blockbuster drug that raised those hopes and fed on that anxiety. It is a story that in its depiction of strategies, tactics and mindset should make us wonder about the prescription drugs that are so much a part of our lives.
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To read Chapter 1 in its entirety and view the accompanying materials online, visit The Huffington Post: Highline website: http://huff.to./1KI4UQ5.