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Johnson & Johnson: A Crisis Analysis

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Johnson & Johnson: A Crisis Analysis

The case at hand is concerning the tampering with the Johnson & Johnson drug, Tylenol, in the mid eighties. Three bottles of the popular pain reliever were contaminated with the fatal drug cyanide. These tampered bottles resulted in fatalities and put the country in a panic. This happened not once, in one particular spot, but it also happened across the country and then again four years later in yet a different location. In the words that follow, I will analyze this case viewing the challenges that were presented to the company, the actions they took, and what we can learn from them.

One of the challenges was to insure that the public knew what was going on and had access to as much information necessary about how the company was dealing with these tampered products. As outlined in our book, when faced with a crisis a company needs to put the public first, be honest with them, take responsibility, and give a constant flow of information. In a case of this magnitude it is important that the information is handled with care because if it were to leak out into the public that false information was given or serious information was covered up, it could ruin the reputation of the company. Even a company as tenured and reputable as Johnson & Johnson could be ruined due to a crisis of this type if handled in the wrong manner. Luckily, Johnson & Johnson had a team that was able to produce successful results.

Initially, the company opened its doors to the public and told them whatever they asked for. Even though incorrect information was given within the first day of the investigation, the company quickly admitted their mistake and provided the public with the correct information. They were able to rebound in the public opinion because they were able to admit fault on this issue and not place blame on someone else. The company also took other actions outside of the normal press conferences and interviews. They opened up telephone hotlines to have customers voice their concerns and receive an answer from the company itself. The most significant action that was taken by the company was the pulling of all the Extra-Strength Tylenol capsules from the shelves. Again, they put the public first and decided it was better to take the financial hit then loose public trust. They did this not once, but twice within that tragic four year time period and even offered a rebate to anyone who wanted to shift to the new and tamper free caplet version of the drug. These actions did not go unrewarded.

Johnson & Johnson clearly recovered from what could have been the end for them. Tylenol is currently one of the most trusted drugs for pain relief and no longer carries any negative connotation about the incident. To be quite honest, had it not been for my communication courses here at Purdue, I don't know as though I would know about



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