J Med Ethics doi:10.1136/medethics-2012-101160
  • Law, ethics and medicine
  • Paper

Collective action and individual choice: rethinking how we regulate narcotics and antibiotics

Press Release
  1. Jonny Anomaly
  1. Correspondence to Dr Jonny Anomaly, Department of Philosophy, Politics, Economics (PPE), Duke University, 326 Perkins, Box 90204, Durham, NC 27708, USA; jonathan.anomaly{at}
  • Received 11 October 2012
  • Revised 29 November 2012
  • Accepted 7 January 2013
  • Published Online First 20 February 2013


Governments across the globe have squandered treasure and imprisoned millions of their own citizens by criminalising the use and sale of recreational drugs. But use of these drugs has remained relatively constant, and the primary victims are the users themselves. Meanwhile, antimicrobial drugs that once had the power to cure infections are losing their ability to do so, compromising the health of people around the world. The thesis of this essay is that policymakers should stop wasting resources trying to fight an unwinnable and morally dubious war against recreational drug users, and start shifting their attention to the serious threat posed by our collective misuse of antibiotics.

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