Factbox: J&J product recalls test company's 1943 "Credo"

(Reuters) - Four recent recalls of Johnson & Johnson’s Tylenol painkiller and other over-the-counter products have called into question how well the company is adhering to quality standards enshrined in its corporate credo.

J&J has invoked the credo as its framework for ethical dealings with its customers, employees, communities and stockholders -- with priority in that order.

When a poisoning scare hit Tylenol in 1982, J&J officials said they sought guidance in the credo, written in 1943 by Robert Wood Johnson, J&J’s chairman for three decades.

Below are excerpts and executive quotes citing “Our Credo” at Johnson & Johnson:


“We believe our first responsibility is to the doctors, nurses and patients, to mothers and fathers and all others who use our products and services. In meeting their needs everything we do must be of high quality.

“We are responsible to our employees, the men and women who work with us throughout the world. Everyone must be considered as an individual. We must respect their dignity and recognize their merit. They must have a sense of security in their jobs. Compensation must be fair and adequate, and working conditions clean, orderly and safe.

“We are responsible to the communities in which we live and work and to the world community as well. We must be good citizens -- support good works and charities and bear our fair share of taxes. We must encourage civic improvements and better health and education. We must maintain in good order the property we are privileged to use, protecting the environment and natural resources.

“Our final responsibility is to our stockholders. Business must make a sound profit. We must experiment with new ideas. Research must be carried on, innovative programs developed and mistakes paid for ... When we operate according to these principles, the stockholders should realize a fair return.”


* Company Chief Executive William Weldon on January 26 described the credo in an investor conference call as “the foundation of Johnson & Johnson’s business,” noting it “provides a common set of values to our approximately 115,000 employees.”

Weldon said all company products “rely on the people of Johnson & Johnson to make them a reality. It is their talent and commitment to the credo that has built our reputation.”

* J&J Chief Financial Officer Dominic Caruso on March 16, 2009, in another investor conference call, described the credo as J&J’s “overarching principle.”

* When sales of J&J’s anemia drugs Procrit and Eprex were plunging in 2007 due to safety concerns, Weldon on September 11 of that year also invoked the credo on a conference call with investors, citing responsibilities to “customers, patients, family members, employees, communities and, of course, our shareholders.”

Compiled by Ransdell Pierson; Edited by Michele Gershberg, Leslie Gevirtz