Johnson & Johnson announced on Thursday evening that Joaquin Duato will take over as the company's next CEO effective January 3, succeeding Alex Gorsky.

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Following his promotion to the C-suite, Duato, 59, will also be named to the board of directors of the firm.

Duato, like Gorsky, has been with J&J for three decades. He formerly served on the company's executive committee as vice chairman, where he was in charge of the medicine and consumer goods divisions, as well as supply chain and technology operations. He holds dual citizenship in Spain and the United States.

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“I have had the pleasure of working closely with Alex for many years and thank him for his outstanding leadership,” Duato mentioned in a statement. “I am pleased that I will continue to benefit from his guidance and insights moving forward.”

Gorsky, 61, who served as CEO for 9 years and will now assume the role of executive chairman, stated “The decision to step aside was one of the most difficult of my career. This is the right time for the Company as our organization is delivering strong performance across all three segments and is positioned for continued success, in addition to this being the right time for me personally as I focus more on my family due to family health reasons.” 

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Johnson & Johnson was hit by a surge of litigation over its talc-based baby powder and other products during Gorsky's tenure as CEO, and was named in state opioid cases.

Following accusations that the corporations fueled the deadly opioid crisis, a coalition of state attorneys general struck a $26 billion deal with three of the nation's top U.S. drug distributors and J&J last month.

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McKesson, Cardinal Health, and AmerisourceBergen are likely to pay a combined total of $21 billion under the proposed settlement, while J&J is scheduled to pay $5 billion over nine years.