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Tylenol Murders of 1982

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Johnson & Johnson:
The Tylenol Crisis of 1982

Since 1887 Johnson and Johnson had been a respected member of the health care industry providing millions of customers with a diverse line of products from surgical dressings and band aids to baby powder. It had built its reputation on providing surgeons with sterile dressing to use after surgery because infection was a major cause of death after surgical procedures. The company was also a pioneer in the corporate idea of decentralizing the structure of their business so each set of products were directed by their own subsidiary and each had autonomy from the main corporate center. A family run, publicly traded business, the company had always had been aware of its responsibility towards the public and its employees as well as its shareholders. In 1959 Johnson and Johnson acquired McNeil laboratories, maker of the prescription-only drug Tylenol. By 1980, Tylenol was responsible for 37 percent of the pain reliever market and was responsible for 33 percent of the company’s profit growth (Tifft, Griggs, 1982). That type of share of the market illustrates the presence Tylenol had in the industry and there was no end in sight. On the morning of September 29th Mary Kellerman was seen by her parents as having flu symptoms so they gave her Extra Strength Tylenol to combat her fever. She became sick within hours and died later that day. On the same day Adam Janus also died, along with his brother and sister in law. A total of seven people in the Chicago area died within three days and authorities investigating the case concluded that all had taken the extra strength form of Tylenol within hours of their death. Tylenol was Johnson and Johnson’s most profitable product up until the 1982 tampering crisis. While the tampering…...

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