Procter & Gamble

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Founded in 1837, Procter & Gamble (P&G) is one of the world’s largest manufacturing companies. Operating in 80 countries, Procter & Gamble specializes in consumer packaged goods like pet foods, personal care products, and cleaning agents. In 2012, Procter & Gamble recorded more than $83 billion in sales. Procter & Gamble is famous for manufacturing several popular household brands such as Crest, Tide, Pampers, CoverGirl, and Secret.

In recent years, Procter & Gamble has been the subject of controversy. Its osteoporosis and bone loss drug Actonel has caused adverse effects in a number of patients. Actonel patients have experienced debilitating complications such as bladder cancer, bone fractures, and osteonecrosis of the jaw. Procter & Gamble was also fined by the European Commission for participating in a price-fixing cartel.

Procter & Gamble History

In 1837, William Procter and James Gamble met by chance. Procter was a candle maker in Cincinnati, Ohio. Gamble was a soap maker. The two entrepreneurs married sisters Olivia and Elizabeth Norris. After they became brothers-in-law, their father-in-law convinced them to go into business together. This marked the beginning of Procter & Gamble.

By 1859, Procter & Gamble reached $1 million in sales. The company earned contracts allowing them to supply the Union Army with candles and soap during the American Civil War. In the 1880s, Procter & Gamble introduced Ivory soap. In 1911, the company began diversifying its product portfolio by producing Crisco vegetable shortening. Procter & Gamble began sponsoring several radio programs as radio became more popular in the 1920s and 30s. These shows then coined the term “soap operas.”

In January 2005, Procter & Gamble acquired Gillette. This created the largest manufacturer of consumer goods, placing Unilever in second place. In August 2009, Warner Chilcott bought Procter & Gamble’s prescription drug business. The Ireland-based pharmaceutical company paid $3.1 billion for this purchase.

Procter & Gamble’s Actonel

Actonel is a prescription drug used to treat and prevent bone loss caused by conditions such as osteoporosis and Paget’s disease of bone. The active ingredient in Actonel is risedronate. Warner Chilcott currently owns the pharmaceutical division of Procter & Gamble, and is therefore the manufacturer and marketer of Actonel.

Actonel Side Effects

A number of Actonel patients have filed lawsuits against Procter & Gamble for harm caused by Actonel. Actonel side effects include bone fractures, bladder cancer, and a rare bone condition called osteonecrosis of the jaw. Actonel patients have also reported ulcers and irritation in the esophagus, as well as low calcium levels in the blood.

Actonel Controversy

In December 2005, Procter & Gamble’s pharmaceutical division was involved in a research dispute for Actonel. British medical doctor Richard Eastell of the University of Sheffield claimed to have full access of Actonel trial data. The Times Higher Education published a public report disproving these allegations and confirming that Procter & Gamble carried out the trial. In 2009, the General Medical Council held a “fitness to practice” hearing. During the hearing, it was established that Eastell was negligent in making misleading claims. However, he was not determined to have made claims that were deliberately dishonest or misleading.

Procter & Gamble Misconduct

In April 2011, Procter & Gamble was fined by the European Commission for participating in a price-fixing cartel in Europe. The company was ordered to pay the Commission more than 211 million euros. A cartel is an agreement among competing firms. During this price-fixing cartel, Procter & Gamble formed an agreement with Unilever and Henkel to fix the price of competing products in order to reduce competition and increase profits. Unilever was also fined 104 million euros. However, Henkel was not fined. This is because Henkel provided the tip-off that led to the cartel investigations.

View Sources

  1. “Experts cast doubt over scientists’ claims for Actonel.”Times Higher Education. Times Higher Education, 24 Feb 2006. Web. 22 May 2013. http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/201551.article
  2. Kolata, Gina. “When Drugs Cause Problems They Are Supposed to Prevent.” New York Times. N.p., 16 Oct 2010. Web. 22 May 2013. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/17/health/policy/17drug.html
  3. “Our History-How it Began.” Procter & Gamble. Procter & Gamble. Web. 22 May 2013. http://www.pg.com/en_US/downloads/media/Fact_Sheets_CompanyHistory.pdf
  4. Wilson, Duff. “Stronger Cautions Backed on Bone Drugs for Women.” New York Times. N.p., 09 Sep 2011. Web. 22 May 2013. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/10/business/fda-panels-back-sterner-language-on-bone-drugs.html?_r=1&
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