Johnson & Johnson CEO Bill Weldon’s painful year

CNN, September 7, 2010

What started last year as a series of small drug recalls at Johnson & Johnson exploded this summer into a full-blown crisis in quality control. But for months there was nary a peep from CEO Bill Weldon.

It wasn't until late August, after McNeil Consumer Healthcare, the division of J&J (JNJ, Fortune 500) that makes over-the-counter drugs, had instituted eight recalls, that Weldon emerged, granting multiple interviews in which he promised to rectify McNeil's quality problems. He told Fortune that he had created a new position: an operations chief who will oversee quality across J&J and report directly to him. Weldon also said the company had been busy inspecting facilities at all of its 250 operating companies, adding, "This is not a systemic problem at J&J." [For a diagnosis of what went wrong, read "Why J&J's headache won't go away."]

That assertion was quickly undercut. About a week after Weldon proclaimed McNeil an anomaly, the company issued two more recalls -- both in divisions completely separate from McNeil. One was for contact lenses made by Vision Care, and the other involved hip implants made by DePuy.


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