Office of the Attorney General
Attorneys General Call for Urban Outfitters to Stop Selling Products that Promote Prescription Drug Abuse

Press Release Date:  Thursday, May 30, 2013  
Contact Information:  Shelley Catharine Johnson
Deputy Communications Director
502-696-5659 (office)
 


Attorney General Jack Conway, backed by 23 of his colleagues, is again calling on Urban Outfitters to stop selling pint glasses, shot glasses and flasks made to look like prescription pill bottles.

In a letter to Urban Outfitters CEO & Chairman Richard Hayne, the Attorneys General requested that the national retailer cease sales of its "Prescription Line" of glasses, coasters, mugs, drink holders and related products that mimic prescription pill bottles and prescription pads. Link to letter: http://goo.gl/XT03e .

"These products are in no way fun or humorous and make light of an epidemic that kills more than 1,000 Kentuckians each year," said General Conway, who co-chairs the Substance Abuse Committee of the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG). "Prescription drug abuse continues to shatter families across Kentucky and the nation. Urban Outfitters should pull its "Prescription Line" of products from store shelves and join with us to fight prescription drug abuse."

Attorney General Conway and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine led efforts to contact Urban Outfitters to urge the retailer, popular with teens, to stop selling products that mimic prescription pill bottles.

Prescription drugs are now the leading cause of accidental death in the United States. A new national survey by The Partnership at Drugfree.org finds one in four teens reports having misused or abused a prescription drug at least once in their lifetime. Of those kids who admitted to the abuse, one in five, or 20 percent, did so before age 14.

Additionally, the survey finds more than a quarter of teens mistakenly believe that prescription drug abuse is safer than using street drugs.

"We have prosecuted and engaged in outreach to stop this epidemic," wrote the Attorneys General in their letter to Urban Outfitters. "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."

Contact info for Urban Outfitters

Kentuckians who share General Conway's concern about these products can email Urban Outfitters CEO and Chairman Richard A. Hayne at richard.hayne@urbanout.com. Letters of concern may also be sent to:

Urban Outfitters, Inc.
5000 South Broad St
Philadelphia, PA 19112-1495

Combating prescription drug abuse

In addition to his work on NAAG's Substance Abuse Committee, General Conway launched Kentucky's first and only statewide Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Task Force in August of 2009. The task force has been involved in more than 430 prescription drug diversion investigations, including Operation Flamingo Road, the state's largest prescription drug bust that resulted in the arrest of more than 500 people.

In 2010, General Conway launched the Keep Kentucky Kids Safe initiative with the Kentucky Justice Cabinet and its Office of Drug Control Policy, Kentucky Pharmacists Association, National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators (NADDI), Operation UNITE and concerned parents. Since its launch, Attorney General Conway and his partners have alerted more than 20,000 students about the dangers of prescription drug abuse.

General Conway also worked closely with Governor Beshear, House Speaker Stumbo, Senate President Stivers and other lawmakers to win passage of landmark legislation in 2012 to prevent the abuse and diversion of prescription pills in the Commonwealth. Since its passage, prescriptions for hydrocodone are down almost 20 percent and prescriptions for Opana have been almost cut in half.

Attorney General Conway's Office has also filed suit against Purdue Pharma, the manufacturers of OxyContin for misrepresenting the addictive nature of the drug. A recent federal appeals court ruling has cleared the way for the case to be heard in Pike Circuit Court.

General Conway's efforts are making a difference. The latest report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) shows a decline in the non-medical use of prescription pain relievers among all age groups in Kentucky. The state is also below the national average for prescription drug abuse, for the first time.

In addition to the work being done here in the Commonwealth, Attorney General Conway reached across party lines to work with Attorney General Pam Bondi in Florida to ensure that her state implemented an electronic prescription drug monitoring system similar to Kentucky's KASPER system. Together they have worked to shut down the pill pipeline between Florida and Kentucky and to see that all 50 states have prescription drug monitoring programs are in place and that all of the programs can share data across state lines.

Earlier this month, General Conway was among 43 Attorneys General to urge the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to place a black box warning on opioid analgesics to indicate the risk of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS). NAS is caused when infants who have been exposed to opioids through their mother's pre-natal use suddenly lose their opioid drug supply at birth. In Kentucky alone, instances of NAS have risen 2500 percent over the past decade.