Advertising Age on Oct. 6 reported that Brian Perkins, currently VP corporate affairs and who was brand manager on Tylenol in 1982 when seven people died from poisoned capsules, is leaving the company after 31 years in February.

AA said it is “unclear” where Perkins, 57, will go. It said reports that he would leave have "circulated for years." Perkins did not return calls or e-mails from AA.

AA noted that Perkins’ exit follows “two years during which J&J has been forced to recall thousands of products, mainly in the over-the-counter drug business he once headed” and also for prescription drugs and medical devices.

“But unlike the company’s open and active approach to publicity and media relations during [the 1982 Tylenol] crisis, J&J has been low key in its handling of the series of more than two dozen product recalls in the past two years,” wrote AA. It noted that Perkins has “personally declined to comment on the recall issue in the past.”

"The Tylenol Mafia," by Scott Bartz, contends that J&J engaged in a massive cover-up with the help of federal, state and local police, the FBI, media, the courts, employees, suppliers and the PR industry’s largest trade association, PR Society of America.

Bartz Says Poisonings on J&J’s Watch

>He offers evidence that the tamperings took place in during the distribution phase over which J&J did not have complete control and not at the retail level.

In violation of bedrock police practice, almost all the Tylenol capsules in the Chicago area were either destroyed by consumers or turned over to J&J, a suspect in the case, he writes. Handling of bottles by J&J workers and others wiped out fingerprints.

As proof that the poisonings took place while under J&J’s supervision, Bartz notes that new mother Lynn Reiner, 27, died of cyanide-laced Extra Strength capsules that were given to her by the hospital’s pharmacy. The pharmacy was a secure facility and no “madman” was able to break into it and spike the pills, says Bartz.

J&J, with $61 billion in sales and $13.3B in profits, is the ninth largest advertiser, said AA, spending more than $2 billion on such brands as Neutrogena, Aveeno, Tylenol, Motrin, Listerine, Stayfree, Zyrtec and Benadryl. Worldwide ad spending is $2.25B, No. 8 in the global marketplace.