Business Ethics Case Study - Tylenol

1418 words 6 pages

The background

In 1982, Johnson & Johnson (J&J) faced a major crisis that had the potential to send the company into financial ruin. Tylenol, the country’s most successful over-the-counter product, with over one hundred million users, was under attack.

The crisis

Sealed bottles were tampered with and extra-strength Tylenol capsules were replaced with cyanide-laced capsules. These bottles were then resealed and placed on shelves of pharmacies in the Chicago area. Seven people died as a result. Tylenol was called upon to explain why its product was killing people.

The solutions

The company first learned of the deaths from a local news reporter. A medical examiner had just given a press conference saying people
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• They could have pointed fingers, rather than take responsibility. – Rather than focusing on fixing the problem, they could have tried to pass the buck.

Personal opinion

We think that Johnson & Johnson without a doubt did the right thing in taking all Tylenol capsules off the shelf. Even though it could have ended up as a public relations disaster and a large decrease in sales overall, they still had the courage to make the right decision, something that we think a lot of other companies might not have been able to do. We think its good to see that the decision paid off for the company in the end and was rewarded for doing the right thing. Some might say that the decision probably was made because they didn’t want to lose sales as a result of not taking the Tylenol off the shelves, but we really think that Johnson & Johnson had their customers best interests in mind.

Socrates posited that people will naturally do what is good, if they know what is right. Evil or bad actions, are the result of ignorance. If a criminal were truly aware of the mental and spiritual consequences of his actions, he would neither commit nor even consider committing them. Any person who knows what is truly right will automatically do it, according to Socrates.

This case also deals with philosophical issues such as : rational choice, welfare,integrity, justice and fairness; capabilities and development;self-interest.

Their ethical decision was


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