Johnson & Johnson will break itself up into two.

The corporate giant said it would spin off its consumer products division, leaving the company to manufacture and market drugs and medical devices.

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Johnson & Johnson will break itself up into two.

Johnson & Johnson announced it would become two companies, one of them focused on consumer products like its baby powder, and the other on drugs and medical devices.Credit…Mike Segar/Reuters

Nov. 12, 2021, 7:10 a.m. ET

Johnson & Johnson said on Friday that it would break itself up into two publicly traded companies, in the latest instance of corporate giants shrinking themselves to please shareholders.

The 135-year-old company announced that it planned to spin off its consumer-products division — home to Tylenol, Band-Aid, Neutrogena beauty products and more — into a separate business. That would leave J.&J. with its pharmaceutical and medical devices division, which includes its coronavirus vaccine manufacturing.

The decision comes days after General Electric, another icon of corporate America, revealed a plan to break itself up into three companies. And it was announced hours after Toshiba, a stalwart of Japanese industry, said it, too, would split itself up.

Behind the moves is pressure on corporate executives to simplify their sometimes sprawling business empires, in hopes of bringing more focus to their companies and lifting their stock prices.

But J.&J. has also grappled with legal claims that its talc-based products may have caused cancer. In October, a division the company had created to manage those lawsuits filed for bankruptcy protection.

The company’s share price rose more than 5 percent in premarket trading.

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