Published: October 27, 2011

By: Heather Thompson

Bold moves in the medical device sector have proven that J&J is a poster child for portfolio management and accelerating the pace of innovation.

It may seem an easy choice to select the largest, most successful medical device firm as the manufacturer of the year. Johnson & Johnson is broadcloth in the medical device industry, reaching consumers, patients, and physicians on multiple levels and in multiple venues—a cardiovascular surgeon who uses a Thermocool SmartTouch contact force sensing catheter in the operating room is also likely to use a Band-Aid on her son’s grazed knee. But believe it or not, there was considerable debate about whether to choose the juggernaut firm. Was it too obvious? Maybe. Were we overlooking smaller firms? Probably. Was J&J’s record exemplary? Not by a long shot. But the company is still extraordinary.

…So why now? What actions of this mammoth company set it apart in 2011? Well, first, this year marks the firm’s 125th anniversary. The other reasons are ones that you’ve likely already guessed—J&J changed the game in 2011 in ways that no other firms were able to do. In April, it made the largest acquisition of the year with its purchase of Synthes. In one (expensive) swoop, the firm cornered the orthopedics and trauma market, staking a claim that the sector will define the company for years to come.

Then, in June, the firm shocked industry with its decision to exit the drug-eluting stent (DES) market and halt production of its once-gloried blockbuster device, the Cypher sirolimus-eluting stent. The decision signifies that J&J is willing to make tough decisions in a struggling market.

Those bold moves made for big headlines in 2011 and make J&J the clear choice for MD+DI’s manufacturer of the year. This is the inside scoop on how it got there…

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