Health-Care Reform Is US's 'Biggest Challenge': J&J CEO

Alex Gorsky
David Maxwell | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Alex Gorsky

Containing health-care costs, promoting innovation, and the treatment of deadly diseases are among the "biggest" challenges the U.S. faces as it moves to broaden access to health care, Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky said on Thursday.

Speaking to CNBC's "Squawk Box" on the sidelines of an economic summit in New York, Gorsky said that "a conversation" about sustainable and affordable health care was needed to address major concerns that threaten to overwhelm the system.

Evidence suggests that health-care costs are soaring in the face of the implementation of a controversial national health-care bill. Still, Gorsky told CNBC that "In the short term, we have seen the cost curve start to bend a little bit." He added that an aging population was "clearly going to put increasing pressure on the system."

"This issue of health care is on everyone's mind," he said. Debilitating diseases such as Alzheimer's and diabetes are going to be "major cost drivers, particularly in an aging population where there is a high incidence rate."

Changes advanced in new health-care legislation that takes effect next year "are clearly in the best interest of health care," Gorsky said. "What we need in the long run is a system that rewards innovation" and broadens access, he added.

Responding to a question about whether J&J might be poised to exit women's health care and its diagnostics business, Gorsky said the company "must be disciplined about where we are and where we're not going to be." Although he declined to comment on the possibility of J&J selling off any specific business, Gorsky added that the company reserved the right "to look at strategic options".