Retired Johnson & Johnson CEO Ralph Larsen, 77, dies in Fla.

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Ralph S. Larsen, a retired Johnson & Johnson chairman and CEO, has died, the health care giant said Thursday. Larsen, 77, died of cardiac arrest Wednesday at his home in Naples, Florida.

Under Larsen's 13-year tenure, Johnson & Johnson pioneered minimally invasive, or "keyhole" surgery, through its Ethicon Endo-Surgery unit and acquired several companies that helped grow J&J's three businesses: consumer health products, prescription drugs and medical devices and diagnostic products.

Those acquisitions included skincare company Neutrogena Corp.; Cordis Corp., a maker of devices and products for heart surgery that was sold last year, and biotech company Centocor. Centocor, now called Janssen Biotech, became a top maker of biologic drugs, including blockbuster immune disorder drug Remicade.

Larsen began working at Johnson & Johnson in 1962 and rose through the conglomerate's consumer and hospital supply businesses. He left in 1981 to head the consumer products business at medical device maker Becton Dickinson.

Larsen rejoined J&J in 1986 and served as chief executive and chairman from 1989 until he retired in 2002.

He served on the boards of directors at AT&T, General Electric, Xerox Corp. and a health care philanthropy, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, among others.

Larsen was born in Brooklyn, New York. He served in the U.S. Navy before earning a business administration degree from Hofstra University.