Friday, September 5, 2014

Johnson & Johnson speech- April 26, 2012

On April 26, 2012, I attended the Johnson and Johnson shareholder meeting at the Hyatt hotel in New Brunswick, New Jersey with John Fratti.

Because the new CEO, Alex Gorsky, talked for so long and didn't allow the normal two minute limit for people to ask questions or speak, I had to improvise and use less than half of what I intended to say. Mr Gorsky commented after my shortened speech that he would talk to me about this after the meeting. He sneaked out and never spoke to me.

This is my speech in its entirety:

Mr Weldon, Mr Gorsky, Board of Directors, and Shareholders,

I am representing, and I am a life long resident of New Jersey.

Johnson and Johnson has been a part of the New Jersey fabric for as long as I can remember. It was a household name and a company NJ could be proud of. In the 1980s during the Tylenol recalls, Johnson and Johnson set the gold standard in corporate responsibility. It was a defining moment for Johnson and Johnson and the state of New Jersey. We showed the world that people come first; a testament of the legendary company credo.

I am 41 years old, and because of a drug called Levaquin, I am in horrible pain every single day. Just a few weeks ago, I was balled up on the couch and in tears because of that sort of pain. My mother was in the area and stopped in for a surprise visit. She took one look at me and started to cry; the second time I had ever seen it in my lifetime. This has taken an enormous toll on my husband also. Not just financially with my astronomical medical bills, but because he has had to become my caregiver.

I have nerve damage, uncontrolled vertigo, and many other Central Nervous System damage. (Raises left hand with brace on it) I am now on my 7th tendon rupture, which will require surgery. To date, I have had 6 very painful reconstructive surgeries in 6 years to repair the ruptured tendons, 6 years of painful physical therapy, 6 years that have robbed my family and I of things most people take for granted.

I had no other choice but to leave a career that I loved with immeasurable passion.
I went from a cough to becoming disabled.

Because of a pill.

Levaquin is supposed to be used as a last resort for life threatening infections. Mine was not life threatening.

It is well documented that most doctors are not aware of serious long term adverse effects and they need to be better educated by sales representatives (If question about sales reps salary vs bonus question is asked and answered) I think a base pay like other drug companies are doing would help to make sure doctors are given fair balance and better representation of the risk vs reward of these drugs. I would be happy to work with you to implement strategy so that Levaquin is prescribed safely and with informed consent.

The myth that serious side effects are rare is vehemently false. PBS did a special on Levaquin injured patients. There are countless others who don't have a voice. But I do. I am a real person with significant injury.

Mr. Weldon, Mr Gorsky, can your company fix my body? No. But it can put money into research to fix me so I can go back to work and my family won't have to suffer.

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