There’s one thing that companies, consumers, and investors all really dislike, and that’s recalls. They’re inconvenient at best, and it’s unsettling to know that you were at risk without realizing it due to a faulty product, contaminated item, or defective drug. Often, recalled products are linked to illnesses, injuries, or even deaths.
Recalls are tough for manufacturers as well. By having to recall an item, they’re hurting their profits, but perhaps more importantly, they’re also damaging their reputation as a brand.
Here are the most critical product recalls and why they were issued in the first place.
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Johnson & Johnson was responsible for the “recall that started them all.”
Back in 1982, Johnson & Johnson had to recall more than 31 million bottles of Extra-Strength Tylenol after it was revealed that seven people had died in the Chicago area from taking Tylenol laced with cyanide. It was the company’s best-selling product at the time, and the recall cost Johnson & Johnson an estimated $100 million.
The most expensive product recall was Takata’s airbags.
In 2008, Takata’s airbags were being used by basically every car manufacturer around the globe, but then, disaster struck for the company. Several of their airbags were seeing inflators explode, which would cause a shrapnel-like material to shoot out at the driver. This was so disastrous that it was at one point estimated that it would take until 2023 to fix every vehicle that had a faulty airbag. More than 37 million vehicles were recalled, dozens of deaths were reported, and the recall cost Takata an estimated $24 billion. The company closed its doors on April 11, 2018.
A much-prescribed drug led to 88,000 deaths.
Merck, one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world, is also known for having one of the largest product recalls in history. In 1999, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Vioxx, which was meant to help treat arthritis. But five years after the drug was released, the company was forced to pull it off of the market, as studies were showing that the drug increased one’s risk of heart attack. It was estimated that 140,000 people in the United States suffered heart attacks as a result of the drug. In total, more than 88,000 people died, and the recall cost Merck $8.9 billion.
Hasbro was responsible for one of the largest toy recalls in history.
The Easy-Bake Oven is a classic toy, but it’s no stranger to controversy. Back in 2007, 985,000 units were recalled after 249 injuries were reported. Several children had caught their fingers inside the oven, with 77 of those reporting burns.
Smartphones have a lot of features, but exploding didn’t need to be one of them.
In 2016, Samsung lost $5.3 billion when it was forced to recall approximately 2.5 million Galaxy Note 7 devices because the phones were bursting into flames. It was one of the most expensive smartphones on the market at the time.