Johnson & Johnson recalls Extra-Stinky Tylenol

Years ago, I used to teach public relations courses called Reputation Management to corporate suits.  When I singled out companies that had somehow managed to weather bad press to emerge with reputations well intact, there was one at the top.

That company poster child was, hands down, Johnson & Johnson.

In fact, for many years the Forbes list of 100 Most Admired Companies featured J&J as their perennial list-topper. And the exemplary way the company had swiftly stick-handled its catastrophic Tylenol murders scandal in 1982 continues to be taught in PR, journalism and crisis communications classes.

But those heady days must seem far, far away now, with increasing reports of tainted J&J drug recalls. As Consumer Reports Health describes it, a nauseatingly bad smell to its products has been blamed for stinking up several different types of Tylenol, the antipsychotic drug Risperdal, HIV/AIDS drug Prezista, and two lots of the anti-epilepsy drug Topamax among many others. In fact, the agency reports that recalls like these have cost J&J almost $900 million in sales last year alone.   Continue reading

How the “shrink’s bible” can make you sick

In essence, Dr. Allen Frances is the guy who wrote the book on mental illness. As editor of the 4th edition of the psychiatric reference book called the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (universally known as the DSM-IV), he now makes this grim admission about what’s been called the “bible” of the psychiatric profession:   “We made mistakes that had terrible consequences.”      Continue reading

Same old duet: drug companies and psychiatry

Here’s more this month from investigative journalist Alison Bass, author of the book Side Effects: A Prosecutor, a Whistleblower, and A Bestselling Antidepressant on Trial:

“The same drug giants paying millions of dollars to settle claims that they engaged in illegal and improper marketing of anti-psychotic drugs in the U.S. are even now looking for new worlds to conquer. Consider the study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry. It surveyed more than 60,000 adults in 11 countries in Eastern Europe, Asia and South America and concludes that the treatment needs for people with bipolar disorder are “often unmet, particularly in low-income countries.”

“That may indeed be true. But I’d find this result a lot more believable if the study were not funded in large part by the same pharmaceutical companies who make the atypical anti-psychotics used to treat bipolar disorder: Eli Lilly (which makes Zyprexa), Janssen (the unit of Johnson & Johnson that brought us Risperdal), Pfizer (Geodon), Bristol Myers Squibb (Abilify), GlaxoSmithKline (Lamictal), and Novartis (Fanapt).  Continue reading