Once again J&J gets out in front of the bad news

Johnson & Johnson remains a great management case study and the 1982 lessons remain relevant. Don't argue. Make yourself appear more safety-oriented than even your critics. Take the short-term hit and prosper in the long run.

Doctor image from Procrit siteJohnson & Johnson's aggressive reaction to the Tylenol scare of 1982 is a business legend.

Second verse same as the first?

Now it's the company's anemia drug Procrit in the crosshairs.

A German study shows an increased risk of stroke, and the FDA has announced a review. This type of drug is often prescribed to chemotherapy patients and those suffering kidney disease.

The German study involved a version called Eprex, which was being studied for a completely different purpose, namely improving the brain function of stroke patients.

While J&J could have hid from the story on that basis, it chose instead to issue new boxed warnings to patients and doctors warning of the risk to all patients.

Note, too, the use of a black man as the doctor in this image taken from the Procrit site. In a larger version on the site's main page he is talking with white patients. But Procrit is often used by minorities suffering cancer. J&J does nothing without reason.

Lawyers are salivating over headlines like "Anemia Drugs Linked to Higher Death Rate" but by getting ahead of the story Johnson & Johnson has limited any potential liability.

This was possible despite the fact that the FDA itself has become more aggressive in issuing warnings.

Johnson & Johnson remains a great management case study and the 1982 lessons remain relevant. Don't argue. Make yourself appear more safety-oriented than even your critics. Take the short-term hit and prosper in the long run.