Linda A. Johnson, AP
Johnson & Johnson is donating about $200 million in cash and medicine to a sweeping United Nations program created to improve the health and lives of people in poor countries.
J&J is launching a five-year program called "Every Mother, Every Child," meant to help almost 400 million women and children in developing countries. The maker of No More Tears Baby Shampoo will donate its medicine for treating intestinal worms in children, send pregnant women messages on prenatal health on their cell phones, and work to make childbirth safer. J&J also will continue research on new treatments for the AIDS virus and tuberculosis, both of which disproportionately affect women and children in developing countries.
The J&J effort addresses part of the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals. That's an ambitious international effort, begun in 2000, to bring everyone in the world basic needs and rights, from good health, shelter and education to equality between men and women.
The company is working to refurbish J&J's once-golden reputation, which has been tarnished by 11 recalls of medicines, contact lenses and hip implants in the last year. The largest recall involved 136 million bottles of children's and infants' liquid medicines that might have contained tiny metal particles or had too much of their active ingredient. Congress, federal prosecutors and the Food and Drug Administration are looking into J&J's handling of the recalls.
J&J's announcement of the "Every Mother, Every Child" program comes just ahead of the U.N.'s Millennium Development Goals Summit, to be held in New York Sept. 20-22. The conference, expected to draw more than 150 heads of state and leaders of corporations and non-governmental organizations, will urge those officials to create global partnerships and speed up progress on reaching those development goals. The meeting also will review progress over the last decade on the goals, which are to be met by 2015.
Johnson & Johnson's program is meant to improve life and increase life expectancy for women and children in more than 50 countries. The company said it aims to help up to 120 million women and children each year for the next five years.
Johnson & Johnson spokeswoman Carol Goodrich said the intestinal medicine donation will be worth about $40 million to $45 million. The rest of the company's donation will be in cash for the programs targeting mothers.