For now, Weldon will remain as chairman of the board, according to the company.
"He was a survivor," said University of Michigan business professor Erik Gordon, a frequent critic of Weldon. "Through all the product recalls, through the phantom recall, through the congressional hearings - he survived it all, and now is staying on as chairman of the board. He is an old-school CEO/king."
Weldon said in January he planned to keep working until he or the board of directors said otherwise. The directors did so after a board meeting Tuesday, though the board made the decision Feb. 14, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Just three days later, last Friday, the company announced the latest of dozens of product recalls.
J&J's McNeil Consumer Healthcare Division, which has its headquarters in Fort Washington, said that it had to recall nearly 600,000 bottle of Infants' Tylenol because a newly designed syringe-based dispensing system had malfunctioned for some parents.
Production of medicine at the Fort Washington plant was halted in April 2010 after numerous problems, including musty-smelling medicine and metal particles in some products. The company said it spent $100 million on renovations, but it will need approval from a federal judge and the Food and Drug Administration to resume sending over-the-counter medicine to consumers.
Former plant workers told The Inquirer in October that Weldon was among those responsible because he and his appointees added to the workload after acquiring products from Pfizer, but drove out experienced managers.
Weldon made $28 million in salary and bonuses in 2010.
"Our success at developing outstanding leaders from within is reflected in the selection of Alex to lead our great company forward," Weldon said in a company statement. "Alex and Sheri are two extraordinary leaders. The future of Johnson & Johnson is in very capable hands."
Weldon started as a sales representative and climbed through the J&J ranks, taking over as CEO in 2002. Bloomberg News calculated that J&J shares had climbed 2.6 percent under Weldon, trailing the 14 percent gain of the S&P's Health Care Index.
Gorsky graduated from the U.S. Military Academy and got an M.B.A. at the Wharton School. A filing with the SEC said Gorsky would earn a $1.2 million salary. Bonuses will bring additional income.
On the New York Stock Exchange, J&J closed Tuesday up 5 cents at $65.04.
"I'm honored that the board has placed such confidence in me, and I am also aware of the serious responsibilities that come with this office," Gorsky said in a statement. "Johnson & Johnson is a strong and extraordinary company with enormous opportunities to advance health and well-being. I look forward to working with the best employees in the world to achieve future success the way we always have - through unwavering commitment to the principles of our credo."
Contact staff writer David Sell
at email@example.com or 215-854-4506. Read his blog
at www.philly.com/phillypharma and on Twitter @phillypharma.