Ethics: Recalled products

Ethics: Recalled products

Abstract
This research deals with moral aspects in business on the example of a pharmaceutical corporation. Some managers easily make decisions in urgent situations, adhering to high ethical standards. Others disregard ethical norms and arouse disapproval of society. What measures should be taken in case of emergency, when certain product threatens health of the whole nation, and how to work out the problem without loosing the reputation and customers’ trust?
In 1982 the corporation Johnson & Johnson got first messages about the deaths of seven people, who swallowed powerful Tylenol capsules with poisonous cyanide. Tylenol contained 10,000 times more cyanide than was needed to kill a person. It was produced by McNeil Consumer Products Company, a filial branch of Johnson & Johnson.
The executive director of JNJ, James Burk, took personal responsibility for this crisis, and recalled the total amount of Tylenol, which made 100 million dollars’ worth of 32 million phials (Daily News Centre, 2005).
The advertising of this medicament was completely ceased. Consumers were offered to change Tylenol capsules for pills. Thousands of letters were sent to drugstores, while means of mass media advertised buying up the part of Tylenol that had already been sold. Bert himself partook in the main national TV-program to worn people of possible danger. This company faced a real dilemma for the hazardous product bared the company’s brand name, and people firmly associated Tylenol with JNJ, even though the medicament was poisoned after it had left the plant.
Company owners should not forget that if they do something unethical for a short term profit, it may hurt someone and cause disapproval of people (White, 1990).
The reaction of Johnson & Johnson, Inc. to the Tylenol crisis was highly ethical, as it immediately made people aware of existing danger by means of radio and television. The company also introduced a new capsule-shaped pill that would be hard to poison. Many corporations don’t take responsibility in business endeavors immediately after the incidents. It leads to even more serious consequences and spoils the reputation of the company. From the ethical point of view the best way to avoid harsh attacks from society is to alert the nation about the danger, as people’s safety is above all.
The major purpose of advertising is to augment popularity of the product and income of the company. Advertisements should meet ethical requirements, and the quality of products should correspond to what is guaranteed to the customers. Advertisers should make sure that their advertisements do not have any negative effect on people. Unethical advertisements contain misleading bits of information, deceptive images and unethical language. It is necessary for a company to choose between creative and ethical advertisements, as this choice will influence attitude of customers to this company. According to the advertising of JNJ, customers should expect competent management, high quality of products, reasonable prices and ethical actions from this corporation.
The company Johnson & Johnson has gained a world-wide glory and has a great number of filial branches all over the world. It has been using all possible means of advertising to promote its production.
In order to meet ethic requirements, advertisements should be realistic, as the consumer must be sure that the purchased product is worth the money paid for it. Otherwise the company itself may experience the loss of reputation. That is why advertisements should be created in accordance with ethic of truthfulness, in order to live up to expectations of customers (Higgens, 1965).
The potential implications of pharmaceutical product recalls are unpredictable. Consumers expect the purchased product to be authentic and effective. However, it is never known how serious the consequences will be, if the medicament is tampered with poisonous substance. The greatest loss of the company will be in confidence of consumers.
In case of voluntary product recalls the implication to customers is not as serious as in case of compulsory recalls. A manager should be prepared to recall the product without hesitation, which will decrease the risk of doing harm to other customers. The company employees should be trained to notice possible product recall situations to be able to warn people in case of emergency.
Ethical guidelines are intended to guarantee trustworthy relations between pharmaceutical company and its customers. Guidelines ensure the quality of products. Manufacturers and pharmacists should clarify all possible adverse reactions, dosage information, and interaction of this product with other drugs. This must be done before the pharmaceutical product is marketed and announced to customers.
As for implications on society, there is not a shadow of doubt that products under the name of Tylenol won’t ever be purchased by a single customer. Nevertheless, the company has to make sure, that this situation will not put a slur on the company’s reputation. If to apply ethical theories to this research, it is important to notify that Johnson & Johnson adheres to socio-ethical approach by many criteria. First of all, own interests of the organization are based on its social implication. The organization uses programs of social responsibility as a way to maintain its positive public image. Social problems, such as product poisoning, are solved for account of the organization.
In conclusion, ethical problems are complex and contradictory, and not all corporations are able to withstand public disapproval, if the product is recalled for doing harm to people. Not many corporations are ready to take hazards and compensate for losses for their own account. Product recalls may have grave implications for the organization, but one should not forget that compassion to consumers is more valuable than money.


References
Higgens, D. (1965). The art of writing advertising. Crain Books, Chicago.
White, T. I. (1990). America’s corporations are institutionalizing moral values. Retrieved 11 August, 2007, from http://www.ethicsandbusiness.org/corpeth.htm
Label confusion triggers children’s Tylenol recall. Daily News Central, 04 June, 2005 Retrieved 11 August, 2007, from http://health.dailynewscentral.com/content/view/965/62