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Pam Bondi and 22 AGs to Urban Outfitters: stop 'undermining' war on RX abuse

@MarcACaputo

UrbanFlorida Attorney General Pam Bondi and 22 other attorneys general accused Urban Outfitters on Wednesday of "undermining" nationwide efforts to fight pharmaceutical-drug abuse because the store sells a line of drinking novelties that mimic prescription-pill bottles, boxes, pads and syringes.

"These products are not in any way fun or humorous but make light of this rampant problem," the group wrote in a letter addressed to the company's CEO and chairman, Richard A. Hayne. "We invite you to pull these products from your shelves and join with us to fight prescription drug abuse."

Hayne and Urban Outfitter's media-relations department did not immediately respond to an email for comment. A customer-service representative said the store's media-relations department does not have a phone number.

Earlier this month, the company didn't respond to ABC News and FOX when they reported complaints from the Partnership at Drugfree.org, which accused the retailer of making light of drug abuse. So did lawmakers in Kentucky.

The store, known for selling edgy products from time to time, has an entire "Prescription Line" of drinking accoutrements that look like prescription-pill bottles, boxes and pads. It sells “Rx pint glasses” and “syringe shot shooters.” 

A beer koozie, for instance, looks like a pill bottle prescribed by "Dr. Harold Feelgood" to "Mr. Hugh Jass."

"TAKE ONE CAN BY MOUTH, REPEAT UNTIL INTOXICATED," the bottle reads. Another item, a flask that looks like the mock prescription "BOOZEMIN," bears the name of "Dr. Koholic, Al."

Bondi, in a brief discussion with The Miami Herald, underscored the fact that neither she or her colleagues are threatening legal action against the Philadelphia-based chain. They just believe the so-called "Prescription Line" of glasses, coasters, mugs and drink holders goes too far.

"It's in poor taste," Bondi said.

> "Profiting from an ad campaign that is contrary to Florida's efforts to combat prescription drug overdoses and drinking is unacceptable," she said in a follow-up statement. "We are calling on Urban Outfitters to forgo a few sales and help us save a lot of lives."

Since winning office in 2010, Bondi has crusaded against prescription-drug abuse. She championed legislation to fight so-called "pill mills" where shady doctors overprescribe drugs -- particularly opiates such as OxyContin.

The effort to ask Urban Outfitters to remove its "Prescription Line" of goods spans the nation and the political spectrum, from the Republican Bondi in Florida to Democrat Kamala Harris in California to the attorneys general in Guam and Hawaii.

"We are actively engaged in a campaign of environmental change to educate the public that abuse of prescription drugs is not safe simply because the medication originated from a doctor," their letter said.

"By putting these highly recognizable labels on your products you are undermining our efforts."

Here's the letter's text:

Dear Mr. Hayne

On behalf of the undersigned Attorneys General, we request that Urban Outfitters immediately cease sales of your “Prescription Line” of glasses, coasters, mugs, drink holders and related products that mimic prescription pill bottles and prescription pads.

As you may be aware, there is a national health crisis related to the abuse and diversion of prescription drugs. As Attorneys General, we have prosecuted and engaged in outreach to stop this epidemic. We are actively engaged in a campaign of environmental change to educate the public that abuse of prescription drugs is not safe simply because the medication originated from a doctor. By putting these highly recognizable labels on your products you are undermining our efforts. These products demean the thousands of deaths that occur each month in the United States from accidental overdoses.

These products are not in any way fun or humorous but make light of this rampant problem. We invite you to pull these products from your shelves and join with us to fight prescription drug abuse.

Very respectfully yours,

Mike DeWine, Ohio Attorney General

Jack Conway, Kentucky Attorney General

Tom Horne Arizona, Attorney General

Dustin McDaniel, Arkansas Attorney General

Kamala Harris, California Attorney General

John Suthers, Colorado Attorney General

Pamela Jo Bondi, Florida Attorney General

Lenny Rapadas, Guam Attorney General

David Louie, Hawaii Attorney General

Lisa Madigan, Illinois Attorney General

Tom Miller, Iowa Attorney General

Janet Mills, Maine Attorney General

Douglas F. Gansler, Maryland Attorney General

Martha Coakley Massachusetts Attorney General

Bill Schuette, Michigan Attorney General

Jim Hood Mississippi, Attorney General

Tim Fox, Montana Attorney General

Gary King, New Mexico Attorney General

Ellen F. Rosenblum, Oregon Attorney General

Kathleen Kane, Pennsylvania Attorney General

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Tennessee Attorney General

John E. Swallow Utah Attorney General

Gregory A. Phillips Wyoming Attorney General

 

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