Shareholder Campaign: Johnson & Johnson
Johnson & Johnson (J&J) is one of the largest health-care companies in the world, producing a broad range of health-care products, including pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and over-the-counter drugs. Government regulations prescribe a certain amount of testing on animals for medical products; however, companies are afforded a certain degree of flexibility in choosing the tests that they will use to establish the safety and effectiveness of a new substance or formulation. Companies may also choose to eliminate all tests and uses of animals not mandated by government agencies.
2005 Resolution: Give the Animals 5
With the help of PETA supporters who held stock in J&J, a resolution was filed in the fall of 2004 calling on the company to “Give the Animals 5”—replace five crude and cruel tests on animals with state-of-the-art and scientifically valid non-animal methods that were already in use in other countries.
J&J opposed our resolution and sought permission from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to exclude our resolution from its proxy statement. Fortunately, the SEC staff ruled in PETA’s favor and did not concur with the company’s position.
Following the SEC’s ruling, PETA contacted J&J’s corporate secretary in a good-faith effort to establish a dialogue in lieu of bringing our resolution forward at the company’s annual meeting. Subsequent meetings resulted in an ongoing discussion that led PETA to voluntarily withdraw its shareholder resolution and to work with J&J to reduce its animal use.
2011 Resolution: Live Animals in Training
Discussions with J&J foundered over the company’s use of live animals for training its sales representatives in the use of surgical products and its inconsistent use of non-animal simulators. PETA’s 2011 resolution called upon J&J to adopt available non-animal methods whenever possible and incorporate them consistently throughout all the company’s operations and eliminate the use of animals to train sales representatives. The supporting statement for the resolution cited PETA’s findings that certain J&J facilities used live pigs for training medical professionals while other companies used non-animal simulators for the same purpose and that J&J used live animals to train sales representatives, including at least one non-employee intern.
This use of animals largely contradicted the company’s own Guidelines for the Use of Animals in Teaching & Demonstrations. J&J argued that since its guidelines existed, PETA’s proposal had been substantially implemented.
PETA argued that if the guidelines were in fact being followed, the instances discussed in the supporting statement could not or should not have occurred.
The SEC agreed with PETA, stating that although the company has adopted the guidelines, the proposal asked the company to take specific steps to maintain and promote those standards.
This was a significant victory that put companies on notice that its paper policies are not necessarily sufficient to allow them to exclude a proposal. PETA’s resolution garnered almost 73 million shares (4.7 percent).
2012 Resolution: Live Animals in Training
PETA filed a similar resolution in 2012, specifically calling on J&J to use non-animal methods for medical device training and to incorporate them consistently throughout the company’s operations. Even though J&J opposed the resolution, claiming the company’s existing policies already addressed the elements in the proposal. PETA’s resolution was brought to a vote and garnered almost 73 million shares (4.4 percent).