J&J seeks to reassure consumers about Tylenol use

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ: Johnson & Johnson is using its corporate blog and Twitter feed to defend its Tylenol brand to the public, following a recommendation from a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) panel that would reduce acetaminophen dosage.

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ: Johnson & Johnson is using its corporate blog and Twitter feed to defend its Tylenol brand to the public, following a recommendation from a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) panel that would reduce acetaminophen dosage.

On June 30, the FDA panel recommended that the maximum daily dose of acetaminophen be lowered and that the amount of the drug in a single over-the-counter (OTC) pill be limited.

J&J posted a blog on JNJ BTW on June 30, assuring consumers that they could “confidently” continue to use Tylenol in its current dosage. It also tweeted the same information on a company Twitter page on June 30 and July 1, providing links to the brand Web site and the blog post.

The same messaging was used in a series of ads that ran July 3 in several national newspapers, such as The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.

A spokesperson from McNeil Consumer Healthcare, a J&J subsidiary that markets Tylenol, declined to comment.

The Journal said that J&J's reaction “furthered the company's reputation for savvy crisis management,” although some industry sources believe that the efforts were not strong enough to counter the potential crisis.

Mark Hass, CEO of MH Group Communications and former CEO of MS&L Worldwide, noted in an e-mail that “the company's newspaper ads last week aren't nearly enough and will not resonate with consumers, who are more likely to be alarmed by the FDA's concerns than comforted by J&J's assurances.”

Others, like Peter Pitts, director of global healthcare for Porter Novelli, said that J&J communicated the correct message -- that Tylenol is safe when used in the recommended dosage.

"Much of the media coverage makes it sound as though there is something wrong with the product although that is not the case," he added. "This is a very important teaching moment when doctors should talk to their patients and pharmacists should to their patients about the safe and effective use of all drugs, in this case OTC medicines."

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