An In-Depth Comparison of Tylenol's 1982 Response to the Deaths in Chicago Versus 2009-10 Recall

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  6
Wordcount:  1448 Words
Date:  2022-09-22

Tylenol was one of the dominant painkiller medicines manufactures in the United State by the year 1982. It faced a massive crisis by October the year 1982 when about seven individuals were announced dead in Chicago after consuming extra-strength Tylenol capsules. Immediately after the incidence, an investigation was launched to find out was the root cause of the deaths. It was reported that the drugs were tampered with once they reached the shelves. This was done by unknown suspects who placed sixty-five milligrams of cyanide into Tylenol capsules.

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The drugs were removed from the shelves then infected with cyanide. This led to the random death untargeted individuals. This incidence brought a massive decline in the market share of the company. Ushanov argued that a company can assume responsibility even if they are not the ones responsible for the product interference (2015). Johnson and Johnson did this by ensuring the safety of public recalling all of their capsules from the market realm. They permanently removed all their products from the market in February of 1986, after the death of a woman reported to have died as a result of using Tylenol capsules poisoned with cyanide (Schmitt & Majchrzak, 2013).

In the 2009 Tylenol products recall, there was much more relaxation from Johnson & Johnson despite ongoing complaints that were presented by their consumers concerning their products. Some of the complaints the company began receiving about their products were challenged such as extra strength Tylenol, Tylenol grape for children melted away the tablets, and extra strength Tylenol drug rapid release gel caps. However, the company was very reluctant and did not take any action of removing the drugs off the shelves (Zhang & Borden, 2016).

After the years 2010 recall, the company's way of addressing public complaints was considered to be very slow and pathetic. After the recall, the total number of the product recalled by the company was not given. However, as a pharmaceutical company having a blog on their official website, the public anticipated the company to make some statement shading more light on the situation by then. Instead, the company inscribed their recall via their site blog by diverting and forwarding all the questions to the McNeil recall website, a website that was particularly set up for more documentation on current recalls. Johnson & Johnson's company had five different calls in a span of two years, between the year 2009 and 2010.

In the year 2009 October - Public cautioned not to utilize Tylenol that was stolen from a Jacksonville, Fla., cargo terminal, while the alleged theft was purely not Johnson &Johnson's fault, every drug company is bound to secure their supply chains, and this was very significant for them since cyanide caper. In the same year 2009 September -there was a recall of Tylenol infected by bacteria. In the same year 2009 December, recall of Tylenol and other brands due to bad odor on their products. Johnson & Johnson had not acted on complaints by the consumers about the smell of the drug since 2008.

In January 2010, another recall of Tylenol and other brands due to mildew odor on the rugs, which led to a January 15th, FDA warning letter concerning lousy manufacturing safeguards at McNeil's Tylenol plant. And finally, in May 1st, 2010, children's Tylenol recalled over affection with traces of black particles. These events were some of biggest blows a company can experience, and for the safety of the public, the government responded with main aim was to get rid of all the contaminated bottles of drugs in all stores and homes. Secondly, the government and the company had the main objective of getting the murderer. Finally, both the government and the company worked together to clear the air and do whatever possible to prevent the future replica of the event across the country

What effects the political and regulatory environment enabled and/or constrained on how Tylenol reacted? Identify the key ethical questions which emerge in each scenario. For the 2009-2010 response, analyze and comment on the effects of social media. And state how you would have handled the situation if you were to advise Tylenol and why?

Political and regulation on business environment is a sensitive issue to create stability in the business realm (Ryakhovskaya, 2014). After the 1982 incident, both Johnson & Johnson was the level of social responses in the cases of product tampering and recall. They were initially very responsive. However, during the year 2009 recall, there were so many surprises as they did not maintain their standards. Customer's interest was not their first priority and it took them about five years to address customer's complaints (Helm & Tolsdorf, 2013). Until the federal agencies got involved in these complaints, customer's responses were not issues to the company.

Company's new codes of ethics were to make sure that all products from the company are not just for profit purposes but safe for human consumption in whatever situation they may be in. However, Johnson & Johnson did not show any concern after their products were accused to make their customers sick. Additionally, they also failed to address all the complaints that were presented to them by their customers in the year 2009-2010 (Schmitt & Majchrzak, 2013). Deborah Autor director of the FDA compliance office responded to these events saying that, the company ought to have acted very fast since its main responsibility is to ensure high-quality products, effectiveness, and safety of their products. Additionally, they are mandated to protect all consumers. Schmitt & Majchrzak argued that failure to correct all violations may lead to legal actions together with injunction and seizure of any pharmaceutical company (2013).

It was clear that FDA agency would withhold approval exportation certificates request until the violations are resolved. This forced the company to come forward to address these challenges faced by their consumers as one of the ways of ensuring that the crisis is managed (Ushanov, 2015). In such situation, and if working together with them, I would have advised them to address the issues that arose at the time of complaints to prevent further actions that would be taken against the company by consumers or the federal agencies. Finding and resolving issue and customer's complaints aids in establishing goodwill of the company with investors and consumers.

In addition, after the recalls, I would have advised them to revisit their roots, and be upfront with their society concerning their faults in such a way that conveys their information to provide a solution to right then issues and in a positive manner. Similarly, they should be very fast in immediate implementation of all the suggested solutions (Zhang & Borden, 2016). After such events, gaining community and consumers respect as the company's image spreads through social media is always very traumatizing. Once the problem lands in social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, the public now becomes the press.

According to Ryakhovskaya (2014), reviews of the company products will be written and spread to other potential customers, giving warnings and reasons why they should not buy the product, and this happened in the latter recall. Consumers have become reporters and the press in this era of social media. This adversely affects the business in case of similar circumstances as the above. Therefore companies should strive to reach social media in advance and give them new stories and how the company is dealing with the situation ensuring their safety (Fleming, 2017).


According to Fleming (2017), consumers are very sensitive if their interest and are not the companies first priority, especially in a company they are taking their capital into. Consumers in today's market are only concerned with some of the big pharmaceutical companies and their concerns to the general population. However, when customers are affected, losing their lives or maybe getting ill as a result of using the company's drug, it would still cause a drop in the company's profit. Yet, consumers will again begin spending once goodwill is rebuilt (Helm & Tolsdorf, 2013).


Fleming, R. (2017). The Role of Corporate Management in an Effective Crisis Management Program. Archives Of Business Research, 5(6). doi: 10.14738/abr.56.3316

Helm, S., & Tolsdorf, J. (2013). How Does Corporate Reputation Affect Customer Loyalty in a Corporate Crisis?. Journal Of Contingencies And Crisis Management, 21(3), 144-152. doi: 10.1111/1468-5973.12020

Ryakhovskaya, A. (2014). TRANSFORMATION OF CRISIS MANAGEMENT IN CRISIS-MANAGEMENT BUSINESS. Effective Crisis Management, (2), 102. doi: 10.17747/2078-8886-2011-2-102-107

Schmitt, O., & Majchrzak, T. (2013). Document-Based Databases for Medical Information Systems and Crisis Management. International Journal of Information Systems for Crisis Response and Management, 5(3), 63-80. doi: 10.4018/ijiscram.2013070104

Ushanov, P. (2015). CRISIS MANAGEMENT AS A NEW MANAGEMENT PARADIGM. Effective Crisis Management, (1), 66. doi: 10.17747/2078-8886-2010-1-66-79

Zhang, X., & Borden, J. (2016). Linking Issue Management, Corporate Social Responsibility and Crisis Communication: Applying Balance Theory in Crisis and Issue Management. Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management, 25(4), 209-222. doi: 10.1111/1468-5973.12136

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An In-Depth Comparison of Tylenol's 1982 Response to the Deaths in Chicago Versus 2009-10 Recall. (2022, Sep 22). Retrieved from

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