Johnson & Johnson’s Tylenol recall (1982)
In 1982, Johnson & Johnson was in the center of a major crisis. Seven people around Chicago suddenly died. The link between the deaths was that all the victims took a Tylenol a few hours before they died.
Authorities tested the Tylenol bottles, and discovered high levels of potassium cyanide in the pills. The eight affected bottles came from different factories and stores.
Johnson & Johnson issued warnings to distributors and medical professionals, and set up a nationwide recall of Tylenol (31 million bottles, costing the firm $125 million). Johnson & Johnson also set up a hotline, and inspected its factories to be sure the problem hadn’t originated there.
Investigators concluded someone went store to store and filled the bottles with cyanide pills. Johnson & Johnson worked with the FBI, Chicago police and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to find the killer, offering a $100,000 reward. The crime remains unsolved.
When Tylenol went back on the shelves, it was with tamper-proof packaging and coupons for $2.50 off.