Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Tylenol and School shootings

It has been almost a month since the Parkland, Florida Stoneman Douglas school shooting. The fallout has been a game changer on numerous fronts. The assault rifle has found fewer and fewer friends. The 2018 legislative session was turned on its ear towards gun control leaving many important issues laying in it's wake that were never taken up. Acne scarred adolescents were propelled into the limelight by the event as long as they were to parrot the talking points of those on both the right and the left. You could see them lined up endlessly on either CNN or Fox News on the nightly shows. The NAR, which teeters on the cusp of being public enemy number one or the salvation of mankind with their far reaching stance on the second amendment was seen in an endless stream of public discourse. They have now launched a law suit against the state's efforts to raise the age for lawful gun purchase. Mental health advocacy has seen a bit of the spotlight since we do not seem to be able to adequately sift out these threats hiding in personalities too endless to inventory.

I have 7 grandchildren that attend the public schools here in Leon county. I have always felt that they were safe here. I had occasion to consult with a gentleman named John Hunkiar sometime back on the purchase of a home. He was recruited out of the Miami police department where he was in charge of surveillence and controlling the gangs. He assumed the job of chief of security for Leon County schools. The brief time I spoke with him I got the impression that he was a capable and tough cop. I see no other reason to doubt that he is well capable of protecting my grandchildren with the help of many well trained and capable people.

I also think  back to a time when I made my living as an executive in the pharmaceuticals business. In 1982, in Chicago, 7 innocent people died after ingesting Tylenol capsules. Tylenol is a trusted brand name for acetominophen (APAP). Millions of people, adults and children , have ingested hundreds of millions of doses for headache, muscle aches and fever over many, many years worldwide.

It was determined that some maniac had decided to substitute potassium cyanide in place of the APAP in several individual boxes of the drug and replaced on market shelves. 7 innocent people lost their lives because of this maniacal and mercenary act. A few years later the same thing happened with the gelatinous form of Tylenol. Three lives were lost from that episode. They never caught, arrested or prosecuted anyone in relation to this crime. They did elevate product tampering to a federal crime making it easier to prosecute anyone caught from then on.

Johnson and Johnson, the manufacturer of Tylenol reacted swiftly and capably. They immediately recalled the product at a cost of $100 million. They seized the day and saved other lives by their action. As a result of that and the reaction of the FDA today we have a tamper resistant seal on every consumer product that you can imagine. The problem was solved swiftly and effectively. There was no emotional argumentation about need to curtail the sale of headache medication. 36 years later more people are swallowing Tylenol than ever before.

Ironically we also see an opiate bill coming out of this recent Florida legislative session that makes it illegal for you to have pain for more than 7 days. The wisdom of the legislators took on this issue with less debate. All focus shifted in the direction of  the school shootings. Please see my previous post Salting a Bird's Tail on that subject.

There is a plausible and practical solution to making our schools safer. Much like we made our airports safer post 9/11. School marshals alla Sky marshals could be a good approach. Taking politics off the table and emotion off the street we could fix this problem. If Johnson and Johnson made firearms they would solve the problem for us. The manufacturers of firearms, all represented by NRA, are unwilling to step up to the plate.

Do you think it has anything to do with the realm in which these two businesses are active? The pharmaceuticals business is directed towards extending and enhancing life. The gun business is mostly about protecting people from one another to the extent of taking life.

One thing for sure honesty and law abidedness has certainly not been attained by the passing of any bill, law or ordinance at any level so far.

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