Are "pharm parties" real or a media invention?

Media criticism.
June 19 2006 7:13 PM

Phar-Fetched "Pharm Parties"

Real or a media invention?

(Continued from Page 2)

On the entertainment front, two network TV dramas exploited pharm party plot lines— CSI: NYin November 2005 and Boston Legalin May 2006—perhaps increasing the phrase's profile.

Even so, MySpace—the online mecca for teenage networking and socializing—is pretty quiet about pharming parties. MySpace contributors are known for 1) their youth and 2) for their willingness to post almost anything. A targeted search of MySpace using Ice Rocket reveals just 16 mentions of "pharm party," and none for "pharming party." A Technorati search grabs 15 mentions of "pharm party" and just seven mentions of "pharming party." If pharm parties are a trend, they're the best-hidden and least-talked about one in the country.

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It goes without saying that pharm parties may be very real and very everywhere. It's a big country. But it looks to me like pharm party is just a new label the drug-abuse industrial complex has adopted to describe the decades-old tradition of pill parties.

For those who thought USA Today milked the pharm dry, CASA delivered a new bale of cow-fattening hay today (June 19): a new white paper titled "You've Got Drugs!" Prescription Drug Pushers on the Internet: 2006 Update.It comes with a press release by Califano in which he states with more certainty than evidence that:

The trend of teen "pharming parties" will continue to increase as long as these drugs are so easy to obtain.

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Thanks to professor Montana Miller of Bowling Green University for prodding me and suggesting a headline for this piece. If you've attended a "pharm party" and called it that before you read a news story about it or saw mention of it on TV, send e-mail to slate.pressbox@gmail.com. (E-mail may be quoted by name unless the writer stipulates otherwise. EarthLink folks: Turn off your spam filters if you want me to write back.)

Addendum, June 20, 2006: I failed to reach the author of Time'spharming party story, Carolyn Banta, before deadline. In an interview today she says that "two or three" of the 15 or so attendees at the party described in her story spontaneously referred to the event as a "pharming party," without any prompting from her. "My assumption is that they probably heard it from a popular culture reference," Banta says. Banta also says that her interest in the subject was sparked by the CASA report of July 2005.

Jack Shafer was Slate's editor at large. You can follow him on Twitter or email him at Shafer.Reuters@gmail.com.

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