J&J recall criticized for reacting too slowly to complaints

McNeil Consumer Healthcare, a division of Johnson & Johnson, announced a recall on January 15, of several hundred batches of medicine including Benadryl, Motrin, Rolaids, Simply Sleep, St. Joseph Aspirin and Tylenol.

McNeil Consumer Healthcare, a division of Johnson & Johnson, announced a recall on January 15, of several hundred batches of medicine including Benadryl, Motrin, Rolaids, Simply Sleep, St. Joseph Aspirin and Tylenol. According to an FDA inspection report, the recall came 20 months after McNeil first began receiving consumer complaints about moldy-smelling bottles of Tylenol Arthritis, with some users complaining of nausea and stomach pain following use of the product.

Some analysts are criticizing the company for its reaction time. Johnson & Johnson's crisis management is traditionally regarded as exemplary, following the 1980s recall of extra-strength Tylenol when seven individuals were reported dead after taking cyanide-infected pills. Though J&J was not directly responsible for the deaths, the company removed all bottles from national retailers and stopped advertisement for the product.

From The New York Times:

In a climate in which Americans have come to expect perfection in consumer goods, companies are better off overreacting than underreacting when product problems arise, said Michael Braun, an assistant professor of marketing at the M.I.T. Sloan School of Management. Such an extreme measure as Johnson & Johnson's nationwide recall of Tylenol in 1982 may not have been warranted for safety reasons, he said, but it reflected well on the company. “These kinds of actions have tremendous public relations value and that can protect a brand because it engenders trust,” he said. “They probably haven't done that in this case.”

McNeil spokesperson Marc Boston told PRWeek the company has developed a news site, www.mcneilproductrecall.com, to keep customers updated on the recall, but declined to comment further.

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