Thursday, September 30, 2010

Tylenol's "Soft Market Withdrawal"

The House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform heard testimony on Johnson & Johnson's Tylenol problems over the last year.  J & J  conducted six formal recalls on dozens of product, along with a phantom recall on Motrin.

This was the second hearing on the issue.  J & J CEO William Weldon missed the first hearing due to back surgery, relying on Colleen Goggins.  Weldom made this one, along with Ms. Goggins. 

Weldon's testimony omitted his and Ms. Goggins role in bringing about Tylenol's quality crisis.  However, Bill offered the usual ritual sacrifice in his closing:

I would like to close my testimony by noting my appreciation for Ms. Goggins’ leadership of Johnson & Johnson’s consumer group. As you know, she has announced that she will retire from Johnson & Johnson next year.

When asked about the term "soft market withdrawal," used in internal company memos,the pair responded:

Mr. Weldon:  Mr. Chairman, I have no idea what soft market withdrawal is.  I've heard the term.

Chairman Townes:  It's used in the memos and e-mails we received.

Mr. Weldon:  I'm not familiar with the term.  I do not know what it means.

Chairman Townes:  Ms. Goggins, do you know what that means?

Ms. Goggins:  No, we do not use that term regularly.  I've not heard it before this instance.

Chairman Townes:  Why would the employees use it?   Maybe it's the same thing as phantom recall.  I'm trying to figure this out, because you've seen, you've heard it.  What do you think it means?  We don't know.

Ms. Goggins:  I don't.., I agree with you.  I think the language is very unfortunate.  It's terminology we don't use.  Also, I don't think it reflects accurately our priorities and the fact that we try to put safety of patients first, and I think that this language is unfortunate.

Chairman Townes:  Do you want to comment, Mr. Weldon.

Mr. Weldon:  I think, Mr. Chairman, the comment that I would make is I think we've learned a lot of lessons through this, uh, unfortunate situation.  Um, I have said to you, to Mr. Issa and the committee that we have learned and benefited by being here....I can only assure you, we will do everything in our power to never let this happen again.  I think the characterization of phantom, soft, all kinds of things, I cannot explain to you  I wish I could, and I think many different people use many different terms.

It brought to mind BP's Tony Hayward.  I wonder is Bill and Tony used the same PR coach.  Maybe APCO Worldwide?.

(The interchange begins at 1:15:50 mark of CSPAN video)

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