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Johnson and Johnson Case Study

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Johnson and Johnson’s Communication Strategy to Overcome Lawsuits

Johnson and Johnson (J&J) was sued by 22 women in a trial in St. Louis because of evidence of ovarian cancer in their talcum. For over 40 years, J&J kept quiet about containing asbestos in their product. As of now, the decision ended up hurting company and women have a firm reason to sue. (Butler, 2018).

The Situation:

After a six week trial in St. Louis, J&J will need to pay 22 women, 6 whom have died from ovarian cancer, over $6 billion (“Johnson & Johnson ordered,” 2018). According to J&J, they stated that the cases were processed unfairly because a lot of women were outside of the state of Missouri and were allowed to sue . The women were each awarded the same amount of money despite having differences in the case (Butler, 2018). Ovacome “had shown link between use of talcum powder and ovarian cancer but… ‘there was no consistent evidence’”(Butler, 2018). The primary ingredient in J&J’s Baby Powder is asbesto which lawyers said they have found particles of it in “the ovarian tissues of many of the women” (Butler, 2018). J&J still denies any indication of ovarian cancer to using their product. Overall, Johnson and Johnson “has been sued by more than 9,000 women who claim” the cause of their ovarian cancer came from the use of J&J’s talcum (Butler, 2018).

Causes/ Hypothesis/ Proof:

The internal causes of J&J came down to the company not taking responsibility for their product. They denied and hid the evidence of asbestos in the product for over 40 years (Butler, 2018). Asbestos is a dangerous fibre which can cause many disease that will be talked more in depth below in this article.They knew the hazards of using talcum for women and failed to mention it. They didn’t work with their pharmaceutical team to produce a safe talcum to prevent ovarian cancer.

The external factor of this are all the lawsuits towards the company. All these lawsuits could have been eliminated if the internal factor was dealt with.

What communication strategy should J&J take to save its corporate future?


Refund Program is suboptimal.

The Refund Program allows customers who have bought the talcum product to return the product to a local pharmacy. They will get a full refund on the product even without a receipt. This will allow customer satisfaction by allowing them to get their money back.

2. Take it off the market and make a safer product is suboptimal

Take the talcum off the market and speak with the a pharmaceutical team to find a safe way to reproduce the product. There will be a lot more steps in this alternative but will be the safest option. With this being the safest option, it will also be the most expensive with the most risk.

3. Letter to the pubic is optimal.

This alternative will notify the public using mass communication to inform them of the situation that is taking place. In this letter it will state many things such as label changing while still trying to find safe ingredient(s) for a safer talcum product.


This report recommends alternative 3, letter to the public, is the optimal solution for Johnson & Johnson.

As alternatives 1 and 2 do promote many pros to the solution, there are some cons to counter these alternatives. With a Refund Program, the pharmacies will be refunded by J&J and the company will be losing money. Pulling the products off the market until a safer product is produced is the safest option for the consumers. The cons to this alternatives are cost and reputation. If J&J was to bring the product back, the company needs to “consider the reputation aspects of any short or long term public crisis” as it will no longer be trusted (Gilman, 2011). On the cost side, they will need to pay for new packaging which “had a significant negative effect on the common stock prices of firms in the pharmaceutical industry” in the Johnson and Johnson tylenol incident in 1982 (Dowdell, Govindaraj, & Jain, 1992).

J&J should write a detailed article explaining what is in the product and what side effects it might have to the human body because “during an emergency the first breakdown is often in the area of communications…to provide clear and effective communication to their internal and external audiences” ( Hull, 2011). Mentioning how the product has “evidence of asbestos in its product for more than 40 years” (Butler,

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