This week it's 25 years since the first of seven people in Chicagoland died after taking Tylenol laced with cyanide. The scare led to new industry-standard, tamper-resistant over-the-counter drug packaging and became an enduring textbook case for corporate crisis management.
Johnson & Johnson , which makes Tylenol, doesn't break out its sales numbers for the product line, but the company does say that today it is the top-selling brand of adult pain reliever. But for a huge, diversified healthcare company like J & J that does $53 billion in annual revenue, Tylenol is a relatively small product.
The Tylenol poisonings were the worst drug scare since thalidomide which, coincidentally, was launched 50 years ago this week. The drug was intended to help pregnant women with morning sickness, but ended up causing birth defects. It eventually disappeared from the market and was abandoned.