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J&J CEO Faces Pressure on Faulty Medical Devices and Recalls

Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky

Incoming Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky

Alex Gorsky took over as Chief Executive Officer of Johnson & Johnson on April 26, stepping into a position where he ultimately will be responsible for contending with the fallout from failed medical devices, such as recalled defective hip replacements and unsafe transvaginal mesh (TVM).

And yet, Gorsky has told several top news outlets that he intends to focus on growing the company’s business.

Gorsky Appointed Amid Defective Device Situation

Perhaps this should come as no surprise given his background as a vice chairman with responsibility for the Medical Devices & Diagnostics Group, Global Supply Chain, Health Care Compliance & Privacy and Government Affairs & Policy.

At the same time, analysts say they don’t expect Gorsky to make significant changes in the direction of the 126-year-old company. So, is it more of the same for consumers who have already lost confidence in the company?

Bloomberg News reports that in 2011, Johnson & Johnson earned 40 percent of its revenue from medical devices.

The change in guard comes at a time when DePuy Orthopaedics, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, is under fire for its handling of faulty ASR hip replacement.

The artificial hips have early failure rates, and studies have linked the metal-on-metal devices to an increased risk of cancer. The recall of 93,000 ASR hip replacement systems cost the company $521 million, MedCityNews.com reports. More than 6,000 lawsuits have been filed worldwide so far.

J&J Accused of Making Faulty TVM Implants

In addition, more than 550 lawsuits also have been filed against Johnson & Johnson’s subsidiary, Ethicon, over its dangerous and painful TVM implants. The division manufactures Ethicon TVT, Gynecare TVT, Gynemesh PS, Prolene Polypropylene Mesh Patch and Secur, products that are used to repair pelvic organ prolapse (POP) and to treat stress urinary incontinence (SUI).

These devices have been associated with a high rate of complications, requiring multiple revision surgeries for embedded and extruded mesh that might never be corrected.

Gorsky’s oversight of the supply-chain and quality processes have put him in a position to be intimately familiar with the many recalls and lawsuits Johnson & Johnson has faced in recent years, Bloomberg points out.

J&J Facing Litigation

In fact, an Arkansas judge recently ruled that Johnson & Johnson must pay $1.1 billion in fines because the company was found to have hidden the risks of antipsychotic medication Risperdal. Gorsky was vice president of sales and then president of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceutical unit that sold Risperdal.

Bloomberg reports that the U.S. Department of Justice is attempting to compel Gorsky to testify in a related lawsuit that claims Johnson & Johnson paid kickbacks to increase sales of the drug.