2013 Johnson & Johnson shareholder meeting.

The 2013 Johnson and Johnson shareholder meeting was held last week. The event is always the last Thursday in April. Fortunately, the trip is about two hours for me. With my condition, I am unable to make the trip the same day.  I travel the day before and get a hotel room. Because of Levaquin toxicity, it takes over a week to prepare for a trip that would normally take a day to prepare for.  I sent a request to the J&J corporate secretary asking that I be allowed to make a presentation. I bought some shares of their stock several years ago. Got a decent night sleep with my Xyrem prescription the night before and slowly made my way to the meeting. It is a bit intimidating with over a 1,000 shareholders there. The audience is mainly filled with middle age to elderly shareholders. Institutional investors and the press are there as well. Sitting at the front are all of the J&J Board Directors. Alex Gorsky, the new J&J CEO introduces each of them during the beginning of the meeting. Past CEO Bill Weldon is no longer on the board. Perhaps J&J didn’t want him there anymore with all of the bad press that has followed him. The New York Times voted him as one of the worst CEO’s due to all of the product recalls that occurred under his watch.  See: http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2011/12/27/the-worst-c-e-o-s-of-2011/

Repeatedly emphasized during the meeting is the J&J Credo. Summarized, the credo says: Act ethically and responsibly, no matter the cost, by putting J&J patients/customers first, and profits will follow. Unfortunately, the Credo has long been abandoned. Over and over during the meeting, the CEO gave stories of how J&J follows their beloved Credo. It is really nothing more than corporate propaganda.

When I arrived I was escorted to a handicapped chair with my name on it. Doug Chia, the J&J corporate secretary, came down and told me I would be the first to speak during the Q & A session. Another J&J lawyer introduced himself to me and said that there is a fine line between what is safe and what is not regarding Levaquin. I told him that the drug was oversold for simple routine infections. I asked him how he would feel if this happened to him or a family member. He then went on to tell me that I had two minutes to speak and that he would hold up a sign that said “Wrap Up” when the two minute mark was approaching so that I wouldn’t go over the speaking limit.  Well I was about 45 seconds into my speech and the lawyer got up and held up the “Wrap Up” sign in front of me. I didn’t even get one minute before I was asked to finish my speech. It was a dirty trick by the J&J legal team.

Last year, CEO William Weldon came down and sat with me after my speech. Bill Weldon told me that he was going to talk with Dr. Brian Halpern in New York about stem cell therapy. He also said that what J&J has to do is to figure out why certain people have these reactions. He talked about how J&J will work hard on genetic testing. Mr. Weldon said Dr. Halpern had worked with people injured by Levaquin. Mr. Weldon also said that he had stem cell therapy done on his knee by Dr. Halpern.  Several months after my meeting with William Weldon, I received an email from Andrew White, J&J senior counsel for Levaquin. Mr. White said that when Mr. Weldon came down to speak with me about stem cell therapy he wasn’t referring to me or other Levaquin injured people. He was only referring to himself! He also said that any genetic research by J&J is proprietary information and could not be disclosed. Mr. Weldon was certainly referring to me when he talked about stem cell therapy. Another dirty trick by the J&J legal team.

In previous years, I asked that J&J address the health and social welfare concerns of people disabled by Levaquin. I  requested the company implement medical research on this toxicity. CEO Alex Gorsky came down to speak with me after this year’s meeting. On a personal level, he is a very nice guy. He talked about his pharmacuetical background and he said that mistakes were made under the previous administration. He said lets see if there is a way to enter into a reasonable solution to the situation. If he meant about me not attending any future J&J shareholders meetings, there really is no reasonable solution. I plan on trying to attend every future meeting that I can make it to. The company needs to do something concrete on this issue. Perhaps fund medical research on Levaquin toxicity through the Quinolone Vigilance Foundation.  Mr. Gorsky asked if I had a card. I gave him a card and his secretary emailed me the next day saying that Mr. Gorsky valued our discussion. I am not quite sure what that means.

I met up with Rachel B, the Director of the Quinolone Vigilance Foundation at the close of the meeting. J&J apparently thought she was another person who was a loud activist from the previous shareholder meeting. J&J escorted Rachel out of the shareholder meeting. Maybe it was another dirty trick by J& J. Rachel is a really nice lady who has worked hard devoting her time to QVF. As a shareholder, I gave her my guest ticket which entitled her to be there. After the shareholder concluded, we sat outside the Hyatt hotel.  I was so fatigued, I had to lie down on the grass for a while.

I faxed in my request yesterday to  speak at the 2014 J&J shareholder meeting. I am not sure what my health will be but I hope to attend. It will be interesting to see if J&J denies my request. If they do, I will hire an attorney and try and get their shareholder denial in as much media as possible. I am not sure if they have a legal right to deny a shareholder who has not caused a problem other than giving a speech. I thanked the J&J board for allowing me to speak and I praised the J&J employees who built the company reputation in previous decades only to have it severely damaged by the actions of senior management under Bill Weldon’s stewardship. My speech is below. It is not the best, but at least it serves a message that I don’t intend to go away any time soon.

The Levaquin story got in the New York Times and NBC News so it did raise some awareness. I honestly don’t know how members of J&J senior management sleep at night knowing that good innocent people are suffering terrible long term disabilities from this drug. They certainly are not honoring their credo. It is another case of corporate greed, profits over people.

NBC News:  Near the end of the NBC News article is where Levaquin is mentioned. http://www.nbcnews.com/id/51665086/ns/business/#.UYK6mEp95n4

Speech:

Dear Mr. Gorsky, Board of Directors  & Shareholders,

The audience here today is filled with many great, honest, inspiring people who have dedicated their lives to Johnson & Johnson and the community. I really admire that. What I don’t admire is that the Credo has been thoroughly abused over the last decade by the very top of senior management. J&J used to be an honorable and reputable American icon. No more. Bribes, kickbacks, phantom recalls, toxic products, downplayed drug risks have dominated the news. The culture of corruption needs to end.

As I have spoken in the past, my life, and many others, has been ruined by the drug Levaquin. So many innocent, hard working, professional people have incurred immense pain, enormous medical bills, and broken homes. The vast majority of people injured never receive a dime in compensation for their suffering or medical bills. They go on to lead very difficult lives.

The FDA reports that many of the clinical trials for Levaquin were significantly flawed. Over 20,000 individual safety reports have been reported to the FDA for Levaquin. The drug is also linked to over 1,000 death outcomes. You are welcome to have these reports Mr. Gorsky.

I can’t think of anything more cowardly than to knowingly and needlessly  endanger the lives of millions of people like your predecessor did. That’s the ultimate in Cowardly behavior. And it was done without conscience.

The Star Ledger Editorial Board published an article called Johnson & Johnson: Big company shows small Morals: The article states that if the same acts were committed by an individual, that person would likely find himself in prison!                                

In closing, I ask that the shareholders please say a prayer for all the people who are now suffering tremendous health challenges. They really need your support.

I wish you the best of luck in your new position. However, I wish you and your predecessor would visit some of the homes of people who are suffering terribly. Maybe then you would understand what courage and leadership truly is. Caring for the World, one patient at a time. Thank you for your time and I will see you next year. 



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