'My child was worth saving!': Families slam T-shirt that targets opioid victims

Terry DeMio and Alexander Coolidge, Cincinnati Enquirer
This shirt offered at Walmart.com is angering residents who've lost loved ones to the opioid epidemic.

CINCINNATI, Ohio – A T-shirt making fun of a life-saving overdose antidote has outraged families shattered by the nation's opioid epidemic.

The offending T-shirt reads: "Naloxone Proving Darwin wrong 2 mg. at a time."

The quip is a riff on a common gripe by social media trolls that dismiss soaring drug overdose deaths as an example of Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection. Many complain overdose victims don't pay for the antidote that could save their lives.

The company responsible for the T-shirt, CafePress, said later Wednesday it removed the shirt from the website.

The current controversy emerged Wednesday as grieving families reacted as images of the T-shirt circulated on social media and into Facebook groups dedicated to families coping with the fallout of the crisis.

"My child was worth saving!" said Traci Hayes, of Burlington, who lost her daughter on Valentine's Day 2013 to an overdose. Tawni Pina was 21.

Tawni Pina died at 21 years old on Feb. 14, 2013. Her mother, Traci Hayes says a t-shirt that mocks the use of naloxone is being sold.

"I saw it this morning ... My first thought was anger, then sadness:

"The idea that someone thinks that thousands dying from this epidemic is something that should be joked about ... The idea that there are actually people who would buy this shirt and wear it ... 

"And seeing how this shirt affects families of people affected by addiction."

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Rhonda Smith of Erlanger, whose nephew Brandon Greene died from an overdose in June 2017, was appalled. And she shot back at CafePress: 

"I am sharing this design in all my grief groups," she angrily wrote. "You will be bombarded with emails to remove this super-insensitive shirt. Just wait until it affects someone you know and love. This is not something to be made fun of. Remove this shirt from sales immediately."

CafePress sent her an automated email response, pledging to respond within a day or two.

CafePress describes itself as a "leading provider of personalized products" via its website and through top retail partners, including Walmart and Amazon.

It describes its mission as:

"CafePress is a company that works with designers to bring the world millions of designs on hundreds of different products. Our mission is to create human connection by inspiring people to express themselves – You do the dreaming and we will handle the printing."

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Previously headquartered in Louisville, the company was acquired last year by San Francisco's Snapfish for $25 million. In its last year as an independent company, it lost $10 million on revenues of $86 million.

It still operates as an individual business unit.

This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: CafePress 'Naloxone' T-shirt offends opioid crisis victims, families