How J&J's Alex Gorsky Tried to Negotiate a Smaller DOJ Fine | Pharma Industry Regulation |

Johnson and Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky (on phone): Is Eric there, please?

Receptionist: May I ask who’s calling?

Gorsky: Alex Gorsky.

Receptionist: Did you say, “Alex” as in “Alexandra”?

Gorsky: Yes, but just plain Alex.

Receptionist: Please hold.

(A beat as Gorsky is placed on hold. Music is heard—the Clash’s rendition of “I Fought the Law.” After a minute or so . . .)

Attorney General Eric Holder: This is Eric.

Gorsky: Eric, it’s Alex Gorsky.

Holder: Alex. Hey. That’s weird. My assistant said there was a girl named Alexandra on the phone.

Gorsky: No just Alex! There are a lot of guys who are named Alex, O.K.?

Holder: Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees, right?

Gorsky: Exactly.

Holder: Yeah. We may be investigating him too. Just sayin’

Gorsky: So listen. I think we should meet.

Holder: What, like, for dinner?

Gorsky: No. For a business meeting.

Holder: Oh.

Gorsky: Why? Would you ever want to have dinner?

Holder: It doesn’t have to be dinner. A walk would be nice. Maybe a coffee?

Gorsky: Both sound great. Let me tell you the reason I’m calling. A few of the guys over here—the board, for example—we’re a little concerned about some . . . money stuff. Like, that maybe you guys are still thinking of, uh, bringing charges against us.

Holder: Yeah, we’re definitely planning on doing that.

Gorsky: Huh. And this is something you feel strongly about?

Holder: Pretty strongly, yeah.

Gorsky: I see. And you have, like, evidence and stuff?

Holder: I can’t really talk about that, but yeah . . . like, boatloads.

Gorsky: Can I ask you a question? So you’re definitely suing us?

Holder: Can’t really talk about it.

Gorsky: How do you like being a lawyer?

Holder: I like it. But I can’t say I love it. You know?

Gorsky: Totally.

Holder: Law school was a fallback. I had no idea what I wanted to do.

Gorsky: Same. No sane person becomes a pharmaceutical company CEO.

Holder: Is there a lot of science in your job?

Gorsky: So much. And I’m terrible at science.

Holder: I know.

Gorsky: Funny. What do you call twenty-five attorneys buried up to their chins in cement?

Holder: Here it comes . . .

Gorsky: Not enough cement.

Holder: You guys paid all the taxes on foreign profits, right?

(Both laugh really hard.)


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