Johnson & Johnson (J&J) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) William Weldon will step down from his post in April after a series of recalls called into question the quality of the healthcare giant’s products, from artificial hips to infant Tylenol.
Weldon, 63, will remain chairman, the company said.
He has held both roles for nearly 10 years, after three decades spent working his way through the company from his first job as a sales representative at J&J’s McNeil consumer division.
Vice Chairman Alex Gorsky, 51, will become CEO at the next board meeting on April 26, making him the ninth person to lead the company since J&J’s founding in 1886.
Under Weldon’s tenure, J&J expanded a sprawling business comprising more than 250 companies, from prescription drugmakers to a medical devices division and units that make personal care products.
J&J shares are up less than 2 per cent since Weldon took over a decade ago, but have recovered about 14 per cent since August 2010 when the company was mired in product recalls.
In the past two years, the company that long prided itself on a credo of high quality has seen its reputation tarnished by massive recalls for products that were poorly manufactured or failed at a higher-than-expected rate.
“Gorsky is inheriting a company with a better pharmaceutical pipeline than it had 5 or 6 years ago,” Morgan, Keegan & Co analyst Jan.Wald said. “He is inheriting a consumer division that’s still embroiled in problems and he is getting a medical device business that he needs to refresh and restructure and get it to grow again.”
“He’s got a lot of work to do and it is going to be very hard to affect anything in the short-term,” Wald said.