Johnson & Johnson CEO William Weldon

Last April, I made a difficult trip to the Johnson & Johnson sharheolder meeting. I bought a few shares of stock which entitles me to attend the annual shareholder meeting. Fortunately the trip was not far and luckily I had some help getting there. Attending shareholder meetings as an advocate is not my idea. Many people from different industries have done the same.

I was allowed one guest for the meeting. Kathleen Sharp, an author, was nice enough to be my guest.  Kathleen published the book  Blood Feud, which is about two Johnson & Johnson whistleblowers who sold the drug Procrit.  If you think what is going on with Levaquin is sad, you will be stunned on the size and scope of unethical business practices for the Johnson & Johnson drug Procrit. I gave Kathleen a big folder on Levaquin. She told me she is  interested in someday publishing a story on Levaquin toxicity.

The shareholder meeting lasted a little over an hour. There were over 1,000 people in attendance. The audience consisted of shareholders, institutional investors, and the media.   Most of the meeting was spent with J&J executives telling the audience how great the company is and how they uphold and honor the values of the famous company credo.  Summarized, the credo says act ethically by putting consumers first, and profits will follow. 

I was allowed two minutes to give a speech to the J&J CEO, Board Directors, and shareholders.  I kept my speech very civil and respectful even though I felt otherwise.  I showed the J&J CEO & Board Directors the carry bag that I brought which contained the pain medication I now have to take because of Levaquin.  The shareholders applauded the presentation. It was not that it was a great speech. They applauded because they knew that it was the right message -  Put consumers first.  During the speech, I mentioned that there are over 20,000 safety reports that have been submitted to the FDA for this drug.  I mentioned that many of the Levaquin clinical trials have been identified by the FDA as being significantly flawed in protocol design and protocol implementation. I also mentioned that nine of my elected officials in Pennsylvania wrote to the FDA. Many of them requested further safety warnings for Levaquin. I gave a copy of the elected official letters to Doug Chia, the J&J Corporate Secretary.   
After the shareholder meeting, outgoing CEO William Weldon came over and sat down with me.  I thought that was a nice gesture. Mr. Weldon promised two things. He promised that he would have the J&J research team look into genetic risk factors to see why certain people are potentially more susceptible to these adverse reactions. He also talked to me for a long time about autologous stem cell therapy as a treatment. A therapy he said that he had done on his own knee. Mr. Weldon mentioned a physician named Brian Halper sp?, who is a sports medicine doctor that does autologous stem cell treatment.  My mother, a retired registered nurse, sent Mr. Weldon a follow-up letter on all of this.

I recently received a letter from a J&J employee saying this matter is closed. I couldn’t believe it. Mr. Weldon sounded very sincere when he sat down with me. It is hard to believe that his words were nothing but an empty promise. I realize now that Mr. Weldon probably came over to me to simply make himself look good in front of the J&J shareholders and media in attendance. To me, that is a really sad thing to do to someone who became disabled from one of their own products. It certainly does not show leadership. Some people told me that I was a fool for believing that CEO William Weldon would actually follow through on what he said at the shareholder meeting.  Well, I guess I am a fool. 
Johnson & Johnson used to be a reputable and honorable American icon. Maybe someday they will become the corporation that they once were when Robert Wood Johnson founded the company and wrote their famous credo.  


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