Will There Be A Pill Panic?
CNN is reporting that “pills are becoming the new marijuana“. This follows on the heels of Al Gore Jr.’s arrest for improper possession of prescription drugs. My question is whether this will trigger a moral panic – a surge of public anxiety exceeding the real extent ot the social problem. (I’ve blogged previously about social panics here and here. I’ve written at greater length about moral panics here.) Will we begin to see a surge of stories documenting this “growing crisis”? We’ve seen as much with crack and methamphetamine, and there’s a long tradition of such panics over marijuana, opium, and other drugs, to say nothing of the ongoing panic over child abduction and sexual abuse. But there’s one big difference between prescription pills and all other types drugs: the pharmaceutical industry has high quality public relations management and easy media access. And many content providers – the very businesses that like to spread fear and anxiety – depend on Big Pharma advertising for substantial revenue.
I suspect that the PR staff of many of these big pharmaceutical companies (to say nothing of industry trade groups) are on high alert, watching this potential pill panic closely. And I have faith that they’ll manage this moment reasonably well. Remember that Oxycontin panic of a couple years back? Not so much anymore.