29 September 2007

Murder by Tylenol

Mary Kellerman, a 12-year old of Elk Grove Village, Illinois, woke up early and complained to her parents of a sore throat and runny nose. They gave her an Extra-Strength Tylenol Capsule and retreated back to bed. They arose at 7 a.m. to find their daughter collapsed on the bathroom floor. She was pronounced dead after being immediately taken to the hospital.

It was September 29, 1982. The day had barely begun in the greater Chicago area and it had already claimed the life of a little girl. This was just the beginning to what would later be labeled a tragedy.

Paramedics had arrived on the scene at the residence of Adam Janus, a postal worker, to find him barely clinging to life. He was rushed to the hospital and the attempts to resuscitate him failed. Mr. Janus had become the second victim to what would labeled the Tylenol Crisis.

By October 1st, there had been a total of seven deaths related to Tylenol, including two relatives of Adam Janus. Authorities and medical officials were able to ascertain that all the deaths involved the popular pain killer Tylenol.

Upon further investigation, it was found that the bottles of Tylenol that led to the deaths contained cyanide. Investigators found that certain bottles had been tampered with and placed back on the shelves of certain stores. Johnson & Johnson, Tylenol's parent company, proceeded with an expensive recall of all its products.

Because of all this tragedy, the FDA mandated anti-tamper measures be implemented on all over-the-counter medication. With the help of product consultant Calle & Company, Tylenol released the invention of Gelcaps, which were effectively tamper-proof capsules.

Tylenol took a big hit in sales due to the product tampering, but was able to overcome with effective pricing and marketing. The investigators were not as lucky; the culprit of the tampering was never found.

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