Johnson & Johnson CEO William C. Weldon will step down in April, the company announced Tuesday afternoon.
Alex Gorsky, who has been vice chairman of the company's executive committee for the past year, will take over as CEO and join the company's board of directors, though Weldon will keep his title of chairman.
The transition is timed to the company's annual shareholder meeting, which takes place April 26.
Weldon, 63, joined J&J in 1971, and has been its CEO since 2002. He hands the reins to Gorsky at a time of great challenge for the health care giant, which has been beset by numerous product recalls dating back to 2009. Most of the recalls were traced to manufacturing problems at the company's McNeil Consumer Healthcare unit.
"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 written statement. "Johnson & Johnson is a strong and extraordinary company with enormous opportunities to advance health and well being."
Gorsky, 51, joined the company as a sales representative in 1988. In 2004, he left for Novartis Pharmaceuticals, and rejoined J&J in 2008, and has been in charge of J&J's medical device and diagnostics businesses. Sheri S. McCoy, who was elevated to vice chairman last year along with Gorsky, will continue to lead the company's pharmaceuticals and consumer groups, and maintain responsibility for information technology. She will report to Gorsky.
Both McCoy and Gorsky were candidates for the position, though the company said it also considered outside candidates.