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Tylenol Research, Muddle
Please review the Tylenol cyanide case from 1982 and research how Johnson and Johnson handled the crisis.
Please also read the following: “Patients versus Profits at Johnson & Johnson: Has the Company Lost its Way?”
While researching Tylenol, consider the difference in approach the company may have taken in today’s media environment (24/7 news cycle, social media, etc.). With this in mind, complete the Muddle assignment below.
You work in Corporate Communications at a large, publicly-traded pharmaceutical company, Muddle and Company. One of Muddle’s most successful drugs, Arthroxix, an arthritic pain medication, is marketed in over 80 countries with worldwide sales totaling $2.5 billion last year alone. Several former Olympic athletes, now in their 60s but still very popular, are the spokespersons for the product and are featured in the advertising and marketing campaign.
While researching this particular class of drugs amidst claims of digestive track and other related problems, the FDA unexpectedly found a higher than normal incidence of stroke and heart problems among patients taking Arthroxix, though the incidence of digestive track problems was very low. Researchers at Muddle have also discovered the correlation between the drug and a higher rate of heart attack or stroke in patients. To date, three Arthroxix users have died from heart attacks allegedly brought on by the drug. The families of the victims have begun litigation procedures against Muddle.
The drug continues to be touted as safe and effective among many physicians, and has been positively reviewed in the Journal of American Medicine. But now the EMEA (European Medicines Agency, Europe’s equivalent to the FDA) is conducting its own research on the drug, which is sold widely throughout Europe. Due to the increased scrutiny by officials in the U.S. as well as Europe, and the discovery by Muddle researchers of higher rates of heart attack and stroke in patients, some members of your crisis team are urging a recall, while others think it is too premature and believe a recall to be too extreme.
Choose one course of action and develop a crisis communication plan as if you were the head of the Corporate Communications office at Muddle. If the crisis team decides to keep the drug on the market, what will your statements be to your constituents? Or, if the crisis team decides to recall the drug, what would your message be and how will you communicate it? Describe the communication vehicles and develop potential Q&A. Include a description of the steps you intend to take, and a list of who is on your crisis team.
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