After a string of product recalls and products liability lawsuits, the chief executive officer of Johnson & Johnson is reportedly stepping down from his position later this spring. Although the New Jersey company's revenue has doubled in the past decade, the many product recalls in recent years have reportedly cost Johnson & Johnson more than $1 billion, as well as the serious hits to its public image and consumers' trust.
Bill Wheldon, who has worked for Johnson & Johnson for more than 40 years, took over as CEO in 2002. Immediately, he began an aggressive strategy of company acquisitions and licensing deals which resulted in a huge jump in profits. At the same time, however, it appeared that the company was losing its ability to be vigilant about product safety and effectiveness.
In the past two years, Johnson & Johnson has instituted more than two dozen product recalls, covering everything from Tylenol to Benadryl to medical devices such as the DePuy metal hip replacement and vaginal mesh implants.
It has also come under fire from the federal government. Currently, Congress is investigation Johnson's handling of its many recent recalls, including one "stealth recall" in which the company allegedly paid a third party to purchase all available packages of a defective medication. Federal regulators have also ordered one company factory to be completely rebuilt.
It is unclear how many of these recent problems can be attributed to the outgoing CEO, or whether other executives are to blame. Regardless, we hope that the company gets its processes in order before any more consumers suffer injuries or illness due to a defective Johnson & Johnson product.
If you or a family member has suffered illness or injury from a dangerous or defective product, please contact Breslin & Breslin for a free consultation with an attorney.
Source: Washington Post, "Johnson & Johnson CEO Bill Weldon steps down in April, after repeated consumer product recalls," Feb. 21, 2012