Saturday, August 28, 2010

Tylenol Packaging

This afternoon, I opened a new package of Tylenol.  After opening the glued ends of the box, I unwrapped the clear shrink-wrap around the neck of the bottle and the lid.  Then I opened the cap of the bottle and removed the seal over the opening.  Three layers of tamper resistance.........

It made me think about the reason for all those barriers between me and the pain reliever inside.

If you are younger than, say 35 years of age, you've probably never seen any kind of medication or even food items without at least one of those tamper-proof lines of defense.  Ketchup and mustard have the clear wrap to keep you from opening the bottle in the store, and then when you get it home and take that off, you still have to unscrew the cap to remove the seal under the cap.

It hasn't always been that way.

In 1982, the way we think about the products we ingest changed forever.

The Tylenol Tampering Murders is a link to a lengthy accounting of the events surrounding the Tylenol case, complete with the stories of the victims, police investigation, and Johnson & Johnson reaction.

I remember the way the Johnson and Johnson Company handled it. Not the details, of course, but the big picture.  They didn't wait to see what they would be required to do.  They did the right thing.   They recalled EVERYTHING and stopped production to see what could have happened on their end.  That had never been done before.  If you haven't looked at the above link yet, you can read a brief synopsis of the company's actions here.   The fact that you can still buy Tylenol (and trust its safety) almost 30 years later is a testament to the decisions made in a horrifying time of crisis.  Their response was based on the company's credo, written in 1943, way before mission statements became popular.  Here's the first sentence:
We believe our first responsibility is to the doctors, nurses and patients, to mothers and fathers and all others who use our products and services.
Isn't this the way we would want to be remembered in a crisis?  Not that we obeyed the letter of law, but that we responded in a way that was the most beneficial to those who were at risk.  That our first responsibility is to those that trust us.

There is a lesson here.  Let's not forget it.

1 comment:

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