This case was settled in 2015.
We’ve come to expect little from big pharmaceutical companies these days, but somehow Johnson and Johnson has managed to once again lower the bar. On March 10th, one of their subsidiaries pleaded guilty to manufacturing and distributing contaminated drugs including children’s Tylenol, Motrin and Benadryl.
Reportedly, millions upon millions of bottles were affected. Some contained metal particles such as nickel and chromium, while others a moldy odor and misleading labels.
THE EFFECTS OF CONTAMINATED TYLENOL
The damage caused by the monumental oversight is largely unknown. Millions of consumers could possibly be affected including both children and adults.
The metal particles could have all sorts of effects. Nickel can cause cancer, heart disease and developmental problems in children. Chromium is no better. While the company has downplayed the potential effects of ingesting such small amounts, it also said that the bottles were safe in the first place.
The fact that they are now introducing “enhanced quality and oversight standards” does little to assuage fears.
THE PUNISHMENT OF TAINTED TYLENOL
McNeil, the subsidiary, has been fined $25 million for their error and subsequent failure to act. As a result of the recalls and bad press, Johnson and Johnson’s sales have fallen by 19%, resulting in $900 million of lost revenue.
Yet, the punishment hardly seems to fit the crime. The investigation revealed that McNeil knew about the issues as early as 2009 and failed to fix the problem or notify the relevant authorities. Widespread recalls were not announced until the following year.
The company’s reputation has rightfully been tarnished because of the affair, but realistically no one is going to quit taking Tylenol any time soon.
THE LESSON OF CONTAMINATED TYLENOL
At the end of the day, it’s clear that Johnson and Johnson just doesn’t care. The bottom line is the bottom line for McNeil and if they could have covered up the whole incident without admitting fault or administering any recalls, they probably would have.
The fact that regulations and standards are lax enough to allow our children to unknowingly ingest metal particles and mold, is scary to say the least. Putting large pharmaceutical companies in charge of our health more generally, is scarier still.
It’s tough to simply replace Tylenol, but there is a growing organic industry and a host of more natural solutions and home remedies for relieving pain, headaches, and other common ailments you might treat with Tylenol.
For fever you might try drinking peppermint or elderflower tea, or bathing in a mixture of warm water and white vinegar. For pain you might try white willow bark, turmeric or capsaicin, which comes from chili peppers.
Realistically, tainted or not, Tylenol is probably not something you should be taking regularly anyway. The fact that it may or may not be contaminated with metal particles and mold should simply make the decision to refrain that much easier.