But the drugmaker must "give us a rationale if they disagree," said bioethicist Arthur Caplan of NYU School of Medicine, who will lead the committee of 10 and recommended the approach to J&J. "I don't think we'd keep doing this if they kept ignoring us."
Some ethicists said they were concerned because J&J does not plan to disclose the advisors' recommendations to the public.
"I'd like to think this is a well-meaning way to make compassionate-use decisions as objective as possible," said Craig Klugman of DePaul University. "But my cynical side says it gives the company another way to say no."
Read MoreSee CNBC's in-depth look at 'compassionate use'
Compassionate-use requests can put a drugmaker in an unwelcome spotlight, casting it as heartless.
In 2013, doctors treating a 7-year-old with a potentially-fatal infection asked Chimerix Inc. to provide its investigational anti-viral brincidofovir to the boy. After the company declined twice, the family mounted a campaign on social media, causing Chimerix to be barraged with phone calls and emails pleading the boy's case.
After intense media coverage, Chimerix relented, the board replaced the chief executive officer, and the boy got the drug. He recovered.