J&J CEO Gorsky to step down, company veteran to lead in 2022

FILE - In this Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2016, file photo, Joaquin Duato attends the fourth annual Save the Children Illumination Gala at The Plaza Hotel in New York. Johnson & Johnson said late Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021, will replace Chairman and CEO Alex Gorsky with Duato starting next year. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP, File) (Charles Sykes)

Johnson & Johnson will replace Chairman and CEO Alex Gorsky with another veteran company executive starting next year.

The world’s biggest maker of health care products said late Thursday that Joaquin Duato will become CEO and a member of the company’s board of directors on January 3.

Duato, 59, currently serves as vice chairman of J & J’s executive committee, which involves working with the company’s pharmaceutical and health sectors and overseeing its global supply chain.

Duato, a dual citizen of Spain and the United States, has been with Johnson & Johnson for more than 30 years, the company said.

Gorsky, 61, has served as chairman and CEO since 2012 and will become executive chairman of the board.

He said in a prepared statement from the company that the timing was right for his decision, both for the company and personally, “as I focus more on my family due to family health reasons.”

J&J reported a 73% jump in second-quarter profit last month, driven by strong sales growth as hospitals and other parts of the health care industry rebounded from COVID-19 pandemic slowdowns the previous year.

The New Brunswick, New Jersey, company made more than $6 billion in the second quarter but received little help from its one-shot COVID-19 vaccine, which brought in just $164 million in sales. The vaccine — one of three approved for use in the United States — has been plagued by concerns about some very rare side effects and the temporary shutdown of a contract manufacturer’s factory due to contamination problems.

Gorsky, who joined Johnson & Johnson in 1988, oversaw the company’s biggest-ever acquisition, a $30-billion deal for Swiss biopharmaceutical company Actelion that was completed in 2018.

The company also noted that investment in research and development has jumped more than 60% during Gorsky’s tenure to $12 billion last year, with oncology being a focus.

Shares of J & J gained $1.13 in Friday morning trading, climbing to $179.70 while broader indexes also rose slightly. The stock price has climbed more than 12% so far this year.