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Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) CEO Backpedals and Quits Right Before Trump Disbands Council

8/17/2017 5:18:26 AM

Johnson & Johnson CEO Backpedals and Quits Right Before Trump Disbands Council August 17, 2017
By Alex Keown, Breaking News Staff

NEW YORK – One day after committing to remain on the President’s Manufacturing Council, Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) Chief Executive Officer Alex Gorsky reversed course and resigned from the council, shortly before the council as a whole was disbanded by President Donald Trump.

Numerous CEOs, including Kenneth Frazier of Merck, announced they would step down from the council following racial violence and unrest in Charlottesville, Va. The members who stepped down were critical of Trump’s handling of the situation and his slow-reaction to denouncing the white supremacists and white nationalists who marched through Charlottesville and the University of Virginia campus shouting racial slurs and white nationalist slogans. Not only was Trump criticized for his slow response, but his insistence that blame was shared equally by the racist groups as well as counter protestors, which did include factions known as Anti-fa, a group that has advocated violence and property damage in protesting the racist groups, sparked fury across the political and social spectrums. Gorsky on Tuesday initially said he intended to remain on the council in order to use his influence to shape manufacturing policy particularly as it concerned the health care industry. Gorsky said that Johnson & Johnson has an important voice in healthcare, one that leaders at every level of government across the globe need to hear.

Gorsky’s decision was criticized by many, including the editor at MedCity News who suggested that Gorsky would “be known” by the company he keeps. Gorsky though reversed course on Wednesday and announced his decision to step down.

Gorsky said the company is committed to its engagement in influencing public policy. However, he in a statement Gorsky said Trump’s comments “equating those who are motivated by race-based hate with those who stand up against hatred is unacceptable and had changed our decision to participate…”

“Johnson & Johnson has and always will be deeply committed to Our Credo values. And I believe, very strongly, that hatred and bigotry of any kind have no place in our society. Without distraction, we must, and will, continue to honor Our Credo and to creating a better, healthier world. Nothing – no one – will ever get in the way of that,” Gorsky announced on Twitter Wednesday afternoon.

Gorsky’s statement came out right around the same time that Trump himself announced on his own Twitter account that he was disbanding the President’s Manufacturing Council as well as a business advisory council that included numerous CEOS – all of whom resigned en masse Wednesday and prompted the president’s decision to disband the groups in what has been called a face-saving effort.

Frazier, an African-American, was the first CEO to resign from a presidential council following the racial unrest. Trump was quick to denounce Frazier on Twitter, within an hour of Frazier’s announcement. Trump suggested that Frazier should look to lowering “rip off drug prices.”

With Frazier’s and now Gorsky’s public announcements and departures, that has led to questions about how the industry will be able to influence tax reform. Pharma executives have said tax reform is necessary in order to bring off-shore money into the United States in order to spur investments in research and development and manufacturing.

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