J&J taps surgical chief to lead pharma

Another woman will take the mantle from Johnson & Johnson's "most powerful woman in pharma." Veteran J&Jer Sheri McCoy (photo) has been tapped to lead the company's pharmaceuticals division, replacing Christine Poon (photo), who's retiring in March. Now chairman of J&J's surgical products unit, McCoy is a chemical engineer by training; she's served as head of the company's medical devices division in Latin America and as chief of J&J's Ethicon business. Alex Gorsky (photo), who joined J&J back in February after leaving Novartis, will take McCoy's slot as surgical chief.

McCoy will be charged with the difficult task of boosting growth at J&J's pharma unit, which has been struggling of late; last quarter, it posted a 3.1 percent hike in revenue on the back of foreign exchange gains, but without the currency boost, sales would have dropped by 1.3 percent. As you know, J&J recently lost patent protection on its blockbuster antipsychotic Risperdal, and the faces all the same pressures that are plaguing Big Pharma everywhere.

CEO Bill Weldon (photo) cited McCoy's "breadth of business experience" as a big asset. Writing to the Wall Street Journal Health Blog, Weldon said, "Sheri has a strong history of success leading R&D organizations as well as businesses in our consumer and medical devices areas." We'll see how she does at leading the pharma biz.

- check out J&J's release
- read the item at the Health Blog
- see Business Week's coverage