Can Johnson & Johnson Deal With This Publicity Fiasco?

Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) was forced to recall all bottles of Children’s Tylenol sold in South Korea after finding higher-than-recommended levels of its main ingredient, reports the Wall Street Journal.

The good news for J&J is that no U.S. products were affected, and that they identified the machines responsible for the failure.

The Wall Street Journal reported “J&J’s Janssen Korea unit withdrew 1.7 million bottles of Children’s Tylenol in South Korea on April 23, after routine quality-control testing detected concentrations of the key ingredient, acetaminophen, that were ‘slightly out of specification’ in some bottles, said the company spokeswoman.”

This marks just another publicity nightmare for a company that has had to smooth over everything from hip-implant lawsuits, to recalls over other over-the-counter pain relievers, such as Motrin.

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Competitors Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) and GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK) have had recalls and lawsuits over products — just like every pharmaceutical company — but J&J has had more than their fair share. These frequent mishaps have forced J&J to launch a corporate branding campaign in the U.S., with hopes of reestablishing a trusted relationship with American consumers.

Although J&J’s stock has risen steadily over the past three months, the question has to be raised: When will they learn from their past mistakes? The hip-defect lawsuit was a multi-billion dollar disaster, and if management does not start implementing more effective safety regulations they could have a few more just like it. The re-branding campaign is a clear step in the right direction; persuading consumers to trust a pharmaceutical company is of the utmost importance. But at what point do the numerous lawsuits render such campaigns ineffective?

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