For better and worse, America is a consumer culture. An important facet
of this culture is brand loyalty. Some of the oldest and most-established
companies in the United States have staked their claim in the marketplace
by winning the loyalty of customers - often by building a reputation based
on quality, service and safety.
For more than a century, Johnson & Johnson was one such company. The
manufacturer of medicine and personal care products had a sterling reputation.
Its highly recognizable products like Tylenol and Band-Aids were in every
medicine cabinet in America. Unfortunately, since the mid-1980s or so,
J&J has been steeped in scandals involving
dangerous, defective and poorly manufactured products.
The company's troubles have been especially numerous since about 2008,
when J&J began a seemingly endless string of product recalls. Many
were related to manufacturing issues that affected the quality of over-the-counter
drugs like Tylenol, Children's Tylenol, Motrin, Benadryl and Rolaids.
At one point, J&J even engaged in a "
phantom recall," which involved sending third-party employees into stores to buy
up stocks of defective products. The Food and Drug Administration accused
J&J of doing this in an attempt to recall defective products quietly,
without alerting the public.
Although Johnson & Johnson's manufacturing issues have largely
been resolved, the company is still experiencing fallout from those recalls.
This month, McNeil Consumer Healthcare, which is a J&J subsidiary,
pleaded guilty in a case brought by the U.S. Department of Justice. The
company admitted to selling Children's Motrin, Children's Tylenol
and other liquid medicine that had been tainted with metal. Flecks that
some consumers found in their children's medicine were identified
as chromium and nickel particles, and a recall was issued in 2010.
In addition to pleading guilty, McNeil agreed to pay $25 million in order
to resolve the case. It also agreed to implement additional safety measures
at one of its currently closed manufacturing facilities before it is reopened.
Some say that Johnson & Johnson's troubles occurred because the
company simply grew too large, buying up other companies and branching
into more and more types of products. Others believe that J&J became
complacent and stopped paying attention to quality and safety. Whatever
the specific reason may be, J&J is a cautionary tale that brand loyalty
must be earned and maintained by a constant commitment to consumer safety.
Source: NY Daily News, "
Maker of children’s Tylenol pleads guilty to selling metal-contaminated medicine," March 11, 2015