Alex Gorsky, the CEO of one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies Johnson & Johnson, is stepping down in January 2022 after 30 years with the company, the last decade of which he served as CEO.
While Gorsky led the company to record profits his record in terms of product safety is not so stellar. Thousands of consumers have been injured by Johnson & Johnson products including the Proceed mesh, Physiomesh, Elmiron, Depuy hips, Gynecare TVT retropubic sling, and the disastrous talc powder. Despite the slew of lawsuits over these J&J products, the company has made billions and there has been no tangible effort to correct product defects.
As a lawyer who has listened to the horror stories of people who’ve suffered as a result of using these products, I am glad to see Mr. Gorsky step aside and hope that the new CEO, Joaquin Duato, will change course and address these issues, putting people before profits.
However, I am a realist and recognize such change rarely comes from pangs of conscience in the leaders of such behemoth companies. Change usually comes as a result of forced change due to financial constraints. As long as J&J continues to rake in huge profits, consumer safety is not a line item in the budget or a particularly gnawing concern of leadership.