TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Johnson & Johnson is hiring a Bayer Group executive for a new position overseeing J&J's troubled consumer health and manufacturing operations, as new CEO Alex Gorsky tackles key problems at the health care giant.
It's the first big executive move by Gorsky, who became CEO in April and pledged to fix a host of quality, legal and ethical problems involving consumer and other products and sales practices.
New Brunswick, N.J.-based Johnson & Johnson said Thursday that Sandra E. Peterson, the chief executive of Bayer CropScience, will join J&J on Dec. 1.
She will be the first outsider ever appointed to the executive committee that manages J&J operations. The committee will expand from four to six members with the addition of Peterson and worldwide pharmaceuticals head Paul Stoffels, who now will add the role of chief scientific officer.
The expansion is meant to heighten J&J's focus on science and improve execution of its strategy, spokeswoman Carol Goodrich said.
Peterson also will become a group worldwide chairman, expanding that group from five to six. Besides overseeing the recall-plagued consumer health business and J&J's factories and supply chain, she will have responsibility for information technology. The manager of each of those divisions will report to her.
Goodrich noted Peterson has leadership experience in pharmaceuticals, medical devices and consumer goods — J&J's three business segments — as well as health information technology and strategy development.
"She can leverage her IT and supply chain background to address the critical current needs in our consumer business," Goodrich said.
J&J, the world's most diversified health care company, sells prescription drugs, medical devices and diagnostic equipment, along with over-the-counter drugs and a stable of toiletries such as Listerine mouthwash that are household names.
For the past two years, Peterson, 52, has run Bayer's crop business, which sells seeds and chemical and biological crop protection products. Before that, she was chief executive of Bayer Medical Care and president of the Diabetes Care Division of Bayer HealthCare. She's been a member of Bayer Healthcare's executive committee for seven years.
Earlier in her career, the New York native served as an executive at a few American companies.
In 1999, she became a senior vice president at drugmaker Merck & Co.'s prescription benefit management business, Medco. She played a role in Medco's 2003 spinoff as an independent company. She then was a group president of Medco Health Solutions Inc., which became part of what's now called Express Scripts Holding Co. this summer.