J&J’s Alex Gorsky reverses course and jumps ship — just as Trump scuttles top CEO groups

Alex Gorsky

One day after J&J CEO Alex Gorsky publicly committed to staying on President Donald Trump’s manufacturing council, he abruptly reversed course — just as a sudden exodus of executives forced the president’s hand and pushed him to disband two prominent advisory committees.

J&J announced Wednesday afternoon that the president’s position on the deadly Charlottesville confrontation was unacceptable, adding that Gorsky was resigning with immediate effect. But as J&J was putting out their statement, Trump issued his on Twitter.

Gorsky had no sooner told the world on Tuesday that he wasn’t following Ken Frazier’s decision to resign from the manufacturing council than Trump called a press conference and vehemently insisted that both sides of the violent and deadly confrontation in Charlottesville, VA — the neo-Nazis, KKK and others as well as the protesters who came out to oppose their demonstration — were equally to blame.

Equating the two, while also noting that the right-wing extremists had a legal permit for their demonstration, led to a political earthquake in Washington DC which is still rumbling through the capitol.

Gorsky wasn’t endorsing the president’s position when he announced his plans to stay on the manufacturing council. That decision to stay on, he said in a prepared statement, was influenced by his desire to maintain the company’s ethical credo within a senior White House circle.

Trump’s decision to end the economic advisory group came only after the CEOs involved got together and voted to disband.

The sudden upheaval could well complicate things for biopharma at a ticklish time.

J&J has also been lobbying, along with the rest of the industry, for tax reform legislation that would lower rates on repatriating money from overseas accounts. And no one in a top leadership position at any of the pharma companies would have enjoyed Trump’s recent move to start calling out the industry for high drug prices or their overseas manufacturing operations, which resurfaced after Ken Frazier got the ball rolling on Monday as political support for the president crumbled in executive suites from coast-to-coast.

Who can represent those interests effectively in the White House now that some of the most prominent execs in the business won’t come within a mile of the White House?

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Research Scientist - Immunology
Recursion Pharmaceuticals Salt Lake City, UT
Director of Operations
Atlas Venture Cambridge, MA

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