Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Product sabotage and social media
Criminal contamination is a crisis and this was never more obvious than the recent Nurofen product tampering in the UK.
One of the more popular painkillers, Nurofen Plus was criminally replaced with an anti-psychotic drug. Purchasers of the over-the-counter painkiller faced the serious situation that some packs contained a prescription only drug used to treat conditions such as schizophrenia instead of a simple headache. Reckitt Benckiser (UK) Limited recalled Nurofen Plus, reporting that sabotage was suspected. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) worked with the company and the Metropolitan Police to investigate.
Initially there seemed to be very little information regarding the recall provided on the Nurofen website or on the Facebook page. Some detail came in a basic statement on the website about ten hours later. Twitter identified public concern was being expressed by the consumer.
Being ready to respond to an escalating crisis via the web is as important as responding on radio and television and in the press. Utilising websites and social media will help control the high ground in an emerging or escalating critical product incident or product recall. This rapid communication tool can correct rumour and innuendo and protect the consumer, retain market share and manage the crisis.
It's almost 30 years since two mothers, two sisters, a bride, a 12 year old schoolgirl and a stewardess all took Extra Strength Tylenol and died from cyanide poisoning. This landmark case was managed very well by Johnson & Johnson, who developed a new tamper-proof package and worked with the FDA and the FBI to take control and virtually save their brand. The social media phenomena was not around then but maybe Johnson & Johnson would have used this tool to waylay fear and apprehension and communicate their product recovery. It is still in its early days for many drug companies and manufacturers.