Pill-Shaped Products That Glamorize Medicine Abuse: Harmless Fun or Sugarcoating an Epidemic?

This post was originally published in 2013 and has been updated for 2016.

Stop Urban Outfitters from Selling Products that Promote Prescription Drug AbuseIn June 2013, Urban Outfitters, a national retail store popular with teens, removed a number of products from its shelves after considerable pressure from public health groups, state attorneys general, legislators and the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. The merchandise — pint glasses, flasks and shot glasses made to look like prescription pill bottles — made 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.

In fact, the United States is in the midst of a prescription drug abuse and heroin crisis which the CDC has labeled an epidemic.

Though the removal of these items was a step in the right direction to ensure the safety of our children and teens, a further look into today’s pop culture reminds us that Urban Outfitters’ glamorization of medicine abuse was not an isolated event.

Pill backpack from Moschino "Capsule" collection
Then this season, the Moschino “Capsule” collection — with a pill-popping motif — was launched and distributed within retail and online stores. Nordstrom has already pulled the high-end Italian fashion line after Partnership parent advocates and a Minneapolis drug counselor ignited outrage that it glamorizes prescription drug abuse and heroin.


The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids is outraged by Moschino and Saks Fifth Avenue for seeking financial profit from the current opiate epidemic. Please join us in demanding that these retailers immediately remove all products from the Moschino “Capsule” collection from all of their store locations and online sites

We’ve also stumbled upon quite a few other pill-shaped products. Check out the following items and let us know what you think – harmless fun or making light of a serious epidemic?

speaker shaped like a pill beats by dre
Music EquipmentBeats, a popular company specializing in headphones and speakers, sells a pill-shaped portable speaker. Nikki Minaj, an artist with a significant number of teenage fans, has her own signature bubblegum-colored Pill.

Damien Hirst pill-shaped jewelry
Luxury Goods: Handbags and JewelryYou may begin to spot people wearing pills as earrings, necklaces, handbags and rings. Pills have becoming a growing trend in the fashion world, as seen in designer Jeremy Scott’s “pill bag.” and Chanel’s pill charm bracelet (no longer available). Some designers, like Cast of Vices, cross the line further, engraving specific medication names on their jewelry. High-end fashion designers have even begun to incorporate pills into their runway shows, replacing decorative jewels with pill tablets and capsules.

Happy Pills
Happy PillsOriginally from Barcelona, customers from around the world have been chasing their sugar high in the form of Happy Pills. Their online store touts “bring happy moments to people, by using a magic recipe.”

Correction Tape, Pens, Clocks, Flash Drives, Pillows, Chocolates…Pill-themed accessories like Lucite paper weights, correction tape, pens, clock radios, flash drives, pillows and chocolates have also recently appeared on the market. Their bright colors may seem innocent but they send a dangerous message to children by connecting prescription medicine with playfulness and fun.

So what do you think? Are these colorful, attractive products innocuous – or do they downplay the seriousness of prescription medicine abuse? Post a comment below and let us know.

Whether harmless or harmful, the facts remain:

  • Prescription medicines, along with marijuana, are the most commonly abused drugs among 12 to 13 year olds.
  • Every 19 minutes, a person dies from a drug overdose in the United States.
  • Drug-related deaths now outnumber traffic fatalities in the U.S., with the rise driven by an increase in prescription drug overdoses.
I heart Xanax T-shirt

Educate yourself about the ways you can prevent your teen from abusing prescription drugs and over-the-counter cough medication. Inform your child about the dangers of medicine misuse and abuse. Spread the word to your local community and social networks.

>> Visit The Medicine Abuse Project website to learn more. Together, we can #endmedicineabuse.

>> Think your child is abusing drugs?
Visit Get Help or call our Toll-Free Helpline at 1-855-DRUGFREE (1-855-378-4373).


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    August 6, 2013 at 6:52 PM


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    Judy Morris

    July 31, 2013 at 4:18 PM

    This has got to be stopped! It makes me angry….no way should marketing be allowed that sends a message out there to kids that "pills" are fun, safe, and exciting..

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    Verlene Crawford

    July 31, 2013 at 6:14 AM


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    July 30, 2013 at 10:30 PM

    This is ridiculous! There is an epidemic of pill abuse and you think this is funny? Appealing?
    As a recovering addict this is absurd!

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