Before the crisis Tylenol, a painkiller, was the most profitable over the counter drug in the US. In the year 1982, it accounted for almost 20% of the profits posted by the company (Fernando, 2006). Tylenol was a market leader easily dominating the market share as well as selling more than 37% of the other leading brands in the market at the time.
The crisis that befell the company saw for unknown reasons malicious person or persons replacing the Tylenol capsules with those laced with cyanide and had the contaminated packages placed in various outlets such as pharmacies and grocery/food shops. The poison –cyanide- which is quite deadly, led to the death of seven persons. It caused a nationwide scare and the parent company Johnson and Johnson was at a loss to explain the sudden deaths of these persons after taking the drug which had built a strong reputation in the market for many years (Kaplan, 2010).
On the initial day of the crisis, the public relation team from the company Johnson and Johnson got wind of the information from a news reporter who wanted them to comment on the incident. A strategy team was formed to tackle with the crisis and answer the most pressing question of how to handle the crisis and save the face of the company and tier product, and most importantly their clients from further harm.
A total recall of the product was done in the Chicago area and the public from taking any product under the brand name Tylenol. They then recalled all the capsules manufactured as it was seen to be the easiest route with which the tampering occurred. They then went ahead to create tamper-proof mechanism that was a triple technique; a glued box, a seal over the bottle neck and a foil seal at the opening of the bottle.
Throughout the crisis, Johnson and Johnson kept in close contact with the media and used their PR department to ensure the information was accurate and up to date. What started as a reporting by all major news agencies in Chicago and around the nation death by consumption of Tylenol ended in the launching of a new safety product designed to eradicate tampering of medication and many other products which most companies continue to adapt to date.
Kaplan, T. (2010). The Tylenol Crisis, How Effective Public Relation Saved Johnson & Johnson. Retrieved November 12 2014
Fernando, A. C. (2006). Corporate governance: Principles, policies and practices. New Delhi: Pearson Education.