Procter & Gamble Rely Tampons Case Study

Topics: Procter & Gamble, Toxic shock syndrome, Rely Pages: 8 (2397 words) Published: July 23, 2005

The purpose of this research paper is that to present the difficulties Procter & Gamble faced in the early 1980¡¦s due to a correlation between the company¡¦s Rely tampon and the disease Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS). Also, how the company handled the findings before and after new laws were passed by Congress giving the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the authority to regulate medical devices, which included tampons. Thereafter, I will analyze the ethical issues relevant to this case within a SWOT analysis.


Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is about how companies manage their business processes to produce a positive impact on society. Companies introduce new products in markets, usually after testing concludes that the product is safe for use or consumption. It is nearly impossible for a company to truly know all of the potential risks a brand new product may have, even after thorough testing. However, once a company receives reports that its product may be causing harm to consumers, it is their responsibility to conduct more research and tests to rule-out any possible truth in the reports. This is what a socially responsible company would do, one who is preoccupied not only with their bottom-line, but one that is also worried about its customers.

After Procter & Gamble introduced its Rely tampon in the market in the 1970¡¦s, the company began receiving reports as early as 1975 that the product was causing a rare but possibly deadly disease, TSS (Toxic Shock Syndrome). This product was not made with cotton as the competitors¡¦ tampons. The Rely tampon was made with synthetics, like carboxymethylcellulose and polyester in order to be the first extended wear and most absorbent tampon in the market.

I will first discuss these reports and what the company¡¦s initial response was. Next, I will elaborate on the case and the company¡¦s course of action following the passing of new laws and further research conducted by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the illnesses and the women affected by these decisions. Following, I will conduct a SWOT Analysis of the company in which I will include relevant ethic theories pertaining to the case. Finally, I will conclude and provide recommendations based on my findings.

Company History

William Procter, who emigrated from England, and James Gamble, who emigrated from Ireland, met when they married sisters. Procter was a candle maker and Gamble was a soap maker. Their father-in-law insisted that they become business partners and in 1837 Procter & Gamble was born. Throughout Procter & Gamble¡¦s history and development, the company has grown to be divided into five business segments: healthcare, beauty care, baby and family care, snacks and beverages and fabric and home care. The company¡¦s headquarters are located in Cincinnati, Ohio and employs around 110,000 people in nearly 80 countries and markets over 300 products worldwide with a net income of $5.66 billion.

Company Background

Procter & Gamble¡¦s major competitors begun marketing tampons as early as the 1930¡¦s. In 1972 a ban to advertise sanitary products on television was lifted. Seeing this and the preference of women to use tampons, thus becoming a highly competitive market, P&G decides to enter this market in the early 1970¡¦s. Enters the Rely tampon. By 1980, this tampon had acquired 20% of the market. In January 1980, twelve (12) cases of TSS were reported to the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC). TSS begins suddenly, its symptoms are vomiting, high fever, rapid drop in blood pressure, diarrhea, headache, sore throat and muscle aches. After 24 hours a rash appears which is sunburn like. On days 3 and 4 of the disease, broken blood vessels appear in the skin, along with confusion, fatigue and weakness and weak and rapid pulse. The disease can cause kidney dysfunction, liver failure, can be deadly and needs immediate treatment (Klein, 2004). TSS was first identified...

References: Meadows, Michelle. 2000. ¡§Tampon Safety, TSS Now Rare, but Women Still Should Take Care¡¨. March-April. FDA Consumer Magazine.
Klein, Joel MD
Foote, Susan B. 1984. ¡§Corporate responsibility in a changing legal environment¡¨. California Management Review. Spring. V.26, p. 217-228.
Hostman, Barry M. 2000. ¡§ Author Found a Web of Paranoia, Secrecy¡¨ 01March. The Cincinnati Post.
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