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J&J says Gorsky will replace Weldon as CEO

Alex Gorsky is currently vice chairman of Johnson & Johnson's executive committee

Johnson & Johnson has selected Alex Gorsky to succeed long-serving chief executive William Weldon at its annual meeting in April.

The change at the top comes after a difficult period for J&J, which has been hit by manufacturing problems in its consumer health and pharmaceuticals operations that have tarnished its once unassailable reputation for quality and cut 2010 sales by $900m.

51-year-old Gorsky is currently vice chairman of J&J's executive committee and will take over from Weldon - the company's chairman and CEO since 2002 - on April 26. Weldon will continue to serve as J&J's chairman.

Alex Gorsky - J&J CEO
Alex Gorsky

J&J has been running a selection process for a successor to Weldon for around two years, with Gorsky and Sheri McCoy - the head of J&J's pharmaceutical and consumer health operations - reportedly short-listed after a competitive process involving external candidates at the end of 2010.

As vice chairman of the executive committee, McCoy will report to Gorsky when he assumes the role of CEO and continue to lead the pharmaceuticals and consumer groups, said J&J.

Gorsky started working for J&J in 1988 as a sales representative for the firm's Janssen Pharmaceutica subsidiary, rising to the position of president of Janssen in 2001 and then chairman of the group's Europe, the Middle East and Africa pharmaceuticals business in 2003.

He had a four-year stint at Novartis between 2004 and 2008, before returning to head up J&J's Ethicon medical device business.

"It is a testament to the leadership development and succession planning process at Johnson & Johnson that Mr Gorsky, like all of the previous chief executives in the company's 126-year history, was appointed from within the organisation," said Jim Cullen, a member of J&J's board of directors.

22nd February 2012

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