J&J CEO: Fix Products, Get Them Back on Shelves

Johnson & Johnson'snew CEO, Alex Gorsky, told CNBC that his first order of business is to get the company's recalled products back on store shelves.

Alex Gorsky
David Maxwell | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Alex Gorsky

"We've got to address the operational issues with our consumer brands," he said Wednesday, the day before J&J's annual shareholders meeting when he formally succeeded William Weldon. "We’ve got to get them back to the market."

Gorsky, 51, the current vice chairman of the Executive Committee with responsibilities for medical devices and the global supply chain, said recalled products Tylenol Severe Cold, Tylenol Children's and Tylenol Sinus, are already back and the company is "starting to see the benefit."

Getting the other products back on shelves, however, will be a multi-year process.

The change at the top comes as the health-products company struggles to regain its footing after a series of more than two dozen product recalls since September 2009, for reasons from bacterial contamination to liquid medicines that may contain tiny glass or metal. While there haven't been reports of patients harmed by the recalled products, the sheer volume is likely unrivaled in the industry.

"We have absolutely put a lot of steps in place" and are "learning a lot as we go through this process," he told CNBC. "We realize this is going to be an ongoing process. This is going to be something that we’re committed to doing over the next several years to get those products back on the shelves for the mothers and fathers who are depending on us."

Under Weldon, 63, who has been chairman and CEO since 2002, J&J’s revenue slightly more than doubled to $65 billion last year. But lost sales from all the recalled products not on store shelves have cost the company more than $1 billion.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.