The New York Times has corrected our Sept. 30 report that Gardiner Harris will succeed Natasha Singer as the reporter covering Johnson & Johnson. The beat has been taken over by much-honored staffer Duff Wilson.

Harris is the FDA reporter and will continue to be based in Washington, D.C., said NYT.


Singer, who has written numerous articles on J&J’s problems, switched to the Sunday Business section earlier this year.

Wilson, author in 2001 of "Fateful Harvest: The True Story of a Small Town, a Global Industry, and a Toxic Secret," has been with NYT since 2004 after being an investigative reporter for the Seattle Times, Seattle Post-Intelligencer and Associated Press.

His bio lists more than 30 national and regional journalism awards including being the first two-time winner of the Harvard University Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting. He was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for public service.

Wilson reported extensively on the steroid scandals involving Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Marion Jones, Maurice Greene and Trevor Graham.

His writing on the Duke University alleged rape controversy in 2006 sparked criticism from blogger Durham Wonderland who said Wilson flipped from supporting prosecutor Mike Nifong in his quest to bring the charges to trial, to saying there was an “overwhelming lack of other evidence” (aside from claims of the alleged rape victim), and no cause for a trial.

Wilson Unresponsive to Calls

Wilson has been sent articles describing the Bartz research on the Tylenol murders but has not responded. NYT editors and reporters have been sent such materials for more than a year by this website without eliciting a response. Wilson has been asked whether he intends to review the findings of Bartz.

NYT, along with Fortune, The Economist, Christian Science Monitor, Wikipedia, PR Tactics of PRSA and have praised J&J/Tylenol as setting the “gold standard” of crisis management or used similar terms and have shown no signs of backing away from this although much of the material in the Scott Bartz book "The Tylenol Mafia" has been on the Bartz website for nearly two years.

A nearly three-page feature in the Aug. 22, 2010 NYT by Peter Goodman said J&J/Tylenol was “Exhibit A in the lesson book on forthright crisis management…”

Harvard Took Poisoned PR Pill

Today is the 29th anniversary of the announcement on the three national TV networks that three people in the Chicago area had died of poisoned Tylenol Extra-Strength capsules.

Four more deaths were discovered in the next day. Johnson & Johnson's handling of this disaster has been hailed for many years as the "gold standard" of crisis management.

Only the death of President Kennedy in 1963 generated more media coverage.

The Harvard Business School in 1989 went hook, line and sinker for the J&J view that it was totally open with the press, supplying “all available information,” and that J&J took “immediate steps to protect its customers” via a “national withdrawal from the market of all Extra Strength Tylenol capsules.”

J&J did not hold a press conference and conducted no live interviews with the press in the days following the tragedy. It handled some 2,500 press calls on the telephone.

It took the tack, as explained in VP-PR Larry Foster’s history of J&J, that it “could shed no light on the mystery” and that therefore a press conference could serve no purpose.

J&J underscored its non-involvement by only offering $100,000 for information leading to the arrest of the culprit or culprits. Its view was that this was something that happened when the capsules were not in its control, a point disputed by the Bartz book.

The company at first tried to confine the withdrawal to two lots that were distributed in the Chicago area. The full withdrawal of Tylenol Extra Strength capsules was not ordered by it until about a week after the first murders were discovered.

The withdrawal was precipitated by the report of another poisoning via the capsules in Oroville, Calif., where strychnine was discovered in them.

Poisoning in Oroville Was Fake

Bartz presents evidence that this was a fake poisoning of doubtful veracity. The story offered by alleged poisoning victim Gregg Blagg “has too many holes in it to be anything other than a poorly executed scheme, possibly an attempt to extort money from J&J,” he writes. Blagg and his parents were arrested in 1984 on charges of setting a fire that destroyed their meatpacking plant.

Nowhere in the 13-page Harvard Business School article is there any mention of the varied channels used by J&J and other drug houses to distribute their products. It says that it was “clearly established that none of the doctoring resulted from any activity in the factory.”

Bartz says the doctoring took place in the supply chain that involved “rack jobbers,” “repackagers” and other middlemen. J&J shipped the ingredient in Tylenol (acetaminophen) in barrels and drums to such handlers.

J&J had to shift the blame elsewhere to avoid “hundreds of millions of dollars in liability payments, legal fees and lost revenue,” writes Bartz.
A culprit, he notes, was the absence of rules that would have given federal regulators oversight of the distribution process.

Recalls Beset J&J

J&J has been forced to by the FDA to make 11 major product recalls in the past year or so involving nearly 300 million units of drug products.

The FDA has put its McNeil unit plants under strict monitoring for five years. J&J’s Acuvue and TruEye contact lenses were recalled in Europe and Asia in August. One recent recall involved leaky insulin cartridges.

"Blood Feud," a new book by Kathleen Sharp based on interviews with ex-employee Mark Duxbury, charges that “thousands of patients die in unexplained and painful ways” because of the misuse of Procrit, a J&J blood cell stimulating drug.

She claims that the drug, which she says is Medicare’s “most reimbursed drug,” has not been tested sufficiently.

J&J 125 Years Old This Year

J&J is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year. It was founded in 1986 in New Brunswick, N.J., by three brothers—Robert Wood, James Wood and Edward Mead Johnson.

The company’s website has a year-by-year recounting of the many product advances it has made in the medical, pharmaceutical and surgical arenas. Its best known products include those that are used for baby care and treatment of personal injuries and wounds (Band-Aid products).

J&J, a holding company for more than 250 other companies, is the ninth most profitable company in the Fortune 500 list with 2010 net of $13.3 billion on sales of $61.5B, down 0.5%. It dropped from No. 33 on the Fortune list to 40 in 2010. Current stock price of $63 is about where it was on Jan. 2, 2001 ($64.95). Debt is $18.7B.

J&J is the sixth biggest advertiser, spending more than $1.6 billion yearly on ads.