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During the COVID-19 pandemic, community healthcare workers in Peru traveled door-to-door to reach children with VERMOX Chewable tablets for treatment of intestinal worms. The medicine is donated by Johnson & Johnson and implemented by INMED Partnerships for Children. Photo by INMED Partnerships for Children.
Photo by INMED Partnerships for Children.

Innovation has been the key to delivering our wide range of important breakthroughs in health for humanity over our 130+ years as a diversified healthcare company. Our vast scope of R&D expertise across multiple pharmaceutical, medical devices and consumer health applications works synergistically to deliver medicines and products that save and improve lives and strengthen society. Our global scale and extensive collaborative partnerships and networks amplify the reach of our innovation. The thread that runs through all our innovation investments is our vision to positively impact human health and build a future where everyone’s best health is within reach.

Innovation at Johnson & Johnson is catalyzed through:

  • R&D, supporting a full scale of innovation processes; 
  • Dedicated innovation centers, accessing innovation from all sources; 
  • Incubation for hundreds of startups through Johnson & Johnson Innovation—JLABS JLABS Johnson & Johnson Innovation—JLABS (JLABS) View entire glossary ;  
  • Strategic venture capital through Johnson & Johnson Innovation—JJDC, Inc. (JJDC); and 
  • Business development for mid- and late-stage deals and collaborations. 

All these innovation channels work across our three business segments, often leveraging synergies between the different groups and focus areas. For more information about our innovation systems and how innovation is structured across Johnson & Johnson, see our Position on Innovation.

Celebrating our Innovators

Across Johnson & Johnson, at any given time, there are tens of thousands of scientists, researchers, engineers, designers and clinicians who are dedicated to driving innovation for the benefit of our patients and consumers. We celebrate their achievements and contribution to healthcare.

The Johnson Medal for Research and Development, named in honor of General Robert Wood Johnson, Johnson & Johnson chairman from 1932 to 1963, and author of Our Credo, is the most prestigious award given for R&D excellence within our Company. Since 1960, 423 scientists and engineers from our three business segments have received this award, representing a proud legacy of innovation at Johnson & Johnson.

The winning teams of 2020 included 21 innovators who delivered four new technologies:

Six scientists developed the AVEENO ABSOLUTELY AGELESS Blackberry Complex, a new, proprietary technology to fight multiple signs of skin aging.
Four engineers developed the EMBOTRAP II Revascularization Device, an innovative stent retriever that allows physicians to capture and remove life-threatening blood clots from the brain.
Five scientists and specialists developed the SURGICEL Powder Absorbable Hemostat, an innovative product that stops disruptive bleeding during surgery.
Six scientists and clinicians discovered and developed TREMFYA (guselkumab), to treat plaque psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis that leverages the body’s immune system and harnesses scientific advances in immunology.
The 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to Drs. Emmanuelle Charpentier of the Max Planck Unit for the Science of Pathogens, Berlin, Germany, and Jennifer A. Doudna of the University of California, Berkeley and member of the Johnson & Johnson Board of Directors, for their revolutionary discovery of CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing technology, considered one of the most significant breakthroughs in molecular biology in the past decade. Both were the recipients of the Dr. Paul Janssen Award for Biomedical Research in 2014. They join 18 scientists who have received the Dr. Paul Janssen Award since 2004, including three who went on to win the Nobel Prize.

Innovation in Practice

Across all our business segments, 2020 was another year filled with inventive ideas that were brought to fruition through our diverse innovation systems and platforms. Our achievements in 2020 include:

Pharmaceutical innovation: Our pharmaceutical R&D focuses on areas of medicine where we can make the most meaningful impact on unmet patient needs. These include: Cardiovascular & Metabolism, Immunology, Infectious Diseases & Vaccines, Neuroscience, Oncology, and Pulmonary Hypertension. We apply our R&D expertise in small molecules, monoclonal antibodies, cell and gene therapies, RNA therapeutics and vaccines, and study biological pathways that underpin more than one disease to help speed the development of new therapies for multiple diseases. We leverage data science to reimagine the discovery of new medicines.

In addition to innovation noted in our section on Global Public Health Strategy and in our United in Defeating COVID-19 section, we progressed across several fronts in 2020 to provide transformational medicines to patients, including:

  • Pioneering treatment for inherited retinal disease: Inherited retinal disease X-linked retinitis pigmentosa (XLRP) causes progressive vision loss from childhood to adulthood, resulting in legal blindness typically by age 40. Currently, there are no approved treatments. Our investigational adeno-associated virus (AAV)-RPGR gene therapy for the treatment of XLRP, jointly developed with MeiraGTx Holdings plc, was granted Fast Track Designation by the FDA FDA U.S. Food and Drug Administration View entire glossary  and PRIME (PRIority MEdicines) and Advanced Therapy Medicinal Product designations by the EMA EMA European Medicines Agency View entire glossary .  
  • Reducing treatment time for patients with multiple myeloma: We received approval from the FDA for DARZALEX FASPRO (daratumumab and hyaluronidase-fihj), and from the EMA for DARZALEX SC, for the treatment of patients newly diagnosed or with relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma. This subcutaneous, fixed-dose formulation reduces treatment time from several hours to minutes.      
  • Advancing cell therapy science in multiple myeloma: We submitted a Biologics License Application to the FDA for ciltacabtagene autoleucel (cilta-cel), an investigational chimeric antigen receptor T cell (CAR-T) therapy, for the treatment of adults with relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma. In 2017, Janssen entered into an exclusive worldwide agreement with Legend Biotech USA Inc. to develop and commercialize cilta-cel. 
  • Working to reduce the risk of stroke: We continued in the second year of our HEARTLINE Study in collaboration with Apple, which aims to analyze whether a heart health engagement program and Apple Watch can enable the early detection of irregular heart rhythms consistent with atrial fibrillation, and potentially improve heart health outcomes, including reducing the risk of stroke and other cardiovascular conditions.   
  • Revolutionizing adherence for schizophrenia patients: We filed a supplemental New Drug Application to the FDA for paliperidone palmitate six-month (PP6M) for the treatment of adults diagnosed with schizophrenia. If approved, PP6M will be the first and only long-acting injectable schizophrenia medication with a twice-yearly dosing regimen (previously requiring monthly or quarterly treatments), revolutionizing how adults with schizophrenia can be treated and facilitating higher rates of adherence. See more in our section on Mental Healthcare
  • Breakthrough treatment for lung cancer: We sought FDA and EMA approval of amivantamab for the treatment of patients with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer whose disease has progressed during or after chemotherapy. This marks the first-ever regulatory submission for the precision treatment of patients with this lung cancer variation. 
  • Predicting risk factors in E. Coli vaccine clinical trial: Extraintestinal pathogenic Escherichia coli (ExPEC) is a leading cause of bacteremia and sepsis worldwide and can cause severe invasive ExPEC disease (IED). To combat ExPEC, we are developing a novel vaccine candidate to prevent IED in adults aged 60 and older. Using real-world electronic health record data and data science algorithms, we predicted risk factors for patients most likely to develop IED and incorporated these insights into our development plan. By working to reduce the total sample size required and to improve trial speed and efficiency, we can help bring this treatment option to patients faster. 
  • New research collaboration and licensing agreements: We are continuously seeking new partnerships to advance our pharmaceutical innovation, and in 2020, examples include an agreement with Xencor, Inc. to focus on the discovery and development of antibodies for the treatment of patients with prostate cancer, an agreement with MacroGenics, Inc. to develop a potential best-in-class antibody to treat autoimmune diseases, and an agreement with Lava Therapeutics N.V. to develop antibodies to gamma-delta T cells for the treatment of cancer. We also entered into an expanded R&D agreement with Monash University to further advance the clinical development of inhaled oxytocin for the prevention of post-partum hemorrhage (PPH) in developing countries. PPH, a condition of excessive blood loss after birth, is the world’s leading cause of maternal mortality, resulting in an estimated 60,000 deaths per year in resource-limited countries. In these countries, access to oxytocin is often limited as current products are only available in an injectable form requiring refrigerated supply and storage and trained personnel to administer the product safely. An inhaled form of oxytocin, that does not require refrigeration, would offer a unique solution that could save the lives of thousands of women. 
  • Expanding our capabilities in autoimmune diseases: Our immunology pathway strategy creates an opportunity to develop therapies for multiple potential indications across autoimmune diseases with substantial unmet medical need. Our acquisition of Momenta Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a company that discovers and develops novel therapies for immune-mediated diseases, advances our progress in developing medicines for rare and autoantibody-driven diseases including maternal-fetal disorders, neuroimmune disorders, rheumatology, dermatology, and autoimmune hematology.   

Medical Devices innovation: As pioneers in medical devices, Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices Companies (JJMDC) continually focuses on elevating the standard of care, working to expand patient access, improve outcomes, reduce health system costs and drive value. We use our extensive expertise in surgery, orthopaedics, interventional solutions and vision care to deliver innovative solutions for doctors and patients, often in partnership with experts and specialist organizations around the world.

As we look to the future, Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices is driving innovation in a fast-evolving MedTech industry and technology landscape. Our vision for the future of medical devices is to make medical intervention smarter, less invasive and more personalized.
Ashley McEvoy
Executive Vice President, Worldwide Chairman, Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices Companies (JJMDC), Johnson & Johnson

JJMDC JJMDC Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices Companies View entire glossary innovation progress in 2020 includes:

  • Success in treating atrial fibrillation: This year, our Biosense Webster business received European CE mark approval for QDOT MICRO Catheter, a next-generation high-power, short-duration ablation catheter that has demonstrated the ability to reduce total procedure time,4 and FDA approval for the treatment of persistent atrial fibrillation with the THERMOCOOL SMARTTOUCH SF Ablation Catheter. These are important milestones to further treatment options for the millions of people who suffer from atrial fibrillation.
  • Seeing surgery remotely: JJMDC in the UK completed its first digitally assisted case using Rods&Cones surgical glasses as part of a groundbreaking pilot that ensures we can continue to help surgeons remotely, a benefit especially relevant during the COVID-19 pandemic that continues to impact hospital access. These glasses provide a "surgeon’s eye view," allowing remote communication with the surgical team throughout a procedure. This first case was a laparoscopic liver resection carried out at University Hospital Southampton, assisted virtually by a technical expert from our Ethicon business.
  • A better way to staple: Ethicon launched ECHELON ENDOPATH Staple Line Reinforcement (SLR), a novel buttressing device designed to further strengthen staple lines and reduce potential complications during bariatric, thoracic and general surgical procedures. The SLR device complements our existing stapling technology that has been associated with a lower rate of air leaks and bleeding complications. The prevention and reduction of leaks in complex surgical cases is a critical success factor in these procedures.
  • Managing astigmatism: Our new CATALYS cOS 6.0 software with advanced astigmatism management, developed for the CATALYS Precision Laser System by Johnson & Johnson Vision in collaboration with Cassini Technologies, received FDA FDA U.S. Food and Drug Administration View entire glossary clearance. Limitations of the currently available diagnostic and surgical methods are some of the key barriers to surgical correction of astigmatism. CATALYS cOS 6.0 software offers improved astigmatism management and improved patient experience.
  • New surgical instruments for obstetric fistula repair: There have been few innovations in surgical instrumentation for obstetric fistula repair in the last 50 years. In 2020, we collaborated with Dr. Rachel Pope, Assistant Professor, Urology Institute, University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, to develop or improve three surgical instruments used during fistula surgery. These improvements aim to provide high-quality instrumentation to increase patient comfort, maximize surgeon visibility, and improve safety for both the patient and the surgeon. By reducing cost and surgery time, the goal is to develop a sustainable sourcing model in resource-limited settings.
In 2020, we achieved a milestone of one million patients globally who have received our ATTUNE Knee System, delivered by our DePuy Synthes company, part of JJMDC JJMDC Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices Companies View entire glossary . Backed by comprehensive clinical and performance data, the ATTUNE Knee System alleviates the chronic pain and disability associated with osteoarthritis that affects millions of people worldwide. DePuy Synthes continues to innovate to provide state-of-the-art knee solutions to meet the full spectrum of patient needs with the ATTUNE Knee System.

Consumer Health innovation: Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health advances personal health for consumers every day with products that are rooted in science and endorsed by professionals. We combine the power of science with meaningful human insights and digital-first thinking to deliver life-enhancing, first-to-market innovation, including over-the-counter and naturally inspired health and wellness products; high-performance products for healthy skin; and everyday products that deliver effective outcomes for healthier consumers at every stage of life.

At a time when health-conscious and empowered consumers are seeking solutions trusted for their efficacy and social responsibility, we can support them with iconic personal health brands that drive better outcomes. We are designing products that reflect the diversity of the consumers we serve, while keeping the health of people and our planet front and center to make an enduring impact on personal health.
Thibaut Mongon
Executive Vice President, Worldwide Chairman, Consumer Health, Johnson & Johnson

Consumer Health innovation achievements in 2020 include:

Better outcomes for smoking cessation: In the UK, we launched NICORETTE QUICKMIST SMARTTRACK, the first connected OTC product in the world. This groundbreaking product is a mouth spray for rapid craving relief, connected to a smartphone app for tracking usage and progress against goals, as well as receiving tips and support on how to stop smoking. Developed in partnership with our behavioral science experts, QUICKMIST is clinically proven to improve "quit" outcomes significantly when compared to willpower alone.

Healthier scalps: We launched the NEUTROGENA Healthy Scalp collection, bringing the science of skincare to scalp and haircare. Healthy Scalp is clinically proven to cleanse and moisturize the scalp without stripping strands, starting with a healthy, gentle daily approach to overall scalp and hair health, while traditional haircare focuses on the strand, and therapeutic scalp solutions tailored to addressing specific scalp concerns.

Faster and more convenient pain relief: We rolled out TYLENOL Dissolve Packs for adults, building on the success of last year’s similar product designed for children. This offers fast effective relief in a convenient powder form that dissolves without water on the tongue in seconds.

Accelerating external innovation: A significant benefit of our broad and diversified capabilities across our three pharmaceutical, medical devices and consumer health segments is our ability to leverage the specialist capabilities of each to deliver innovations that span a range of health outcomes. Through Johnson & Johnson Innovation, for instance, startups, entrepreneurs and academic researchers, among others, can discuss early-stage deals and collaborations, company incubation and other startup services, venture capital funding—or combinations of these and further support measures—with Johnson & Johnson. In 2020, Johnson & Johnson Innovation launched 12 QuickFire Challenges inviting innovators to receive funding and support for new technologies and therapies relating to mental health, oncology, tuberculosis, pediatric surgery, respiratory infections, digital surgery, digital beauty and much more. A total of $1.7 million in grant funding was awarded to 31 innovators. Read more about these and other initiatives including our JLABS JLABS Johnson & Johnson Innovation—JLABS View entire glossary incubation and startup services in the JLABS 2020 Review.

Supporting breakthrough healthcare innovation: In 2020, we were thrilled to see impressive innovators in healthcare receive recognition and awards worth $50,000 each for their breakthrough innovations to improve human health and help people age well and live longer, healthier lives. The awards were granted in the first round of the National Academy of Medicine's (NAM) Healthy Longevity Catalyst Awards in the United States. These awards are sponsored by Johnson & Johnson Innovation and are part of a larger NAM initiative called the Healthy Longevity Global Competition, which is aimed at spurring innovation that has the potential to transform the field of healthy longevity. Globally, approximately 450 awards of $50,000 each will be made available by NAM and its sponsoring partners over the duration of the multiphase competition. In the final phase, by 2025, one or more Grand Prize winner(s) will each be awarded up to $5 million to help make their game-changing innovations a reality.

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