Urban Outfitters triggers controversy over medical-themed drinking products

Katie LaPotin, Red Alert Politics, May 9, 2013

Urban Outfitters has done it again – that is, find itself embroiled in controversy over its out-of-the-box products with its new line of medical-themed drinking products.

The items, which include shot glasses that resemble pill bottles, flasks featuring a prescription-like label for “Boozemin” and syringe shot shooters, have caught the attention of several drug abuse awareness groups, includingThe Partnership at Drugfree.org. The organization launched a Facebook causes petition and is urging its supporters to write to the Philadelphia-based retail company calling on them to remove the products from their stores. Nearly 3,200 people have already signed the petition, which went live on May 1.

“These products make light of prescription drug misuse and abuse, a dangerous behavior that is responsible for more deaths in the United States each year than heroin and cocaine combined,” the Partnership wrote on its website. “Tongue-in-cheek products that normalize and promote prescription drug abuse only serve to reinforce the misperception about the dangers associated with abusing medicine and put more teens at risk.”

Natalie Costa, producer of the documentary “Behind the Orange Curtain,” which focuses on prescription drug abuse among teens in Orange County, has also spoken out against the products.

“It’s not fun, it’s not a novelty, and parents are losing their kids. We have a huge addiction problem. They need to find something else to sell,” she told KABC in Los Angeles.

Even politicians are joining the fight. Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), the chair of the House Appropriations Committee, wrote a letter to the company griping that the product line trivializes the pain and suffering of those suffering from prescription drug addiction.

“I fear the sale of these items could have the unfortunate consequence of leading more teens to seek out prescription meds, or even worse, an increase in prescription drug-related overdoses,” Rogers said in his letter. “I would encourage you to remove these items from the shelves immediately so as not to contribute to this epidemic.”

As of press time Urban Outfitters has yet to release a statement or remove the products from its website and stores, like it did during the Navajo Nation and “Ghettopoly” controversies in the past.

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