No single factor can explain the recent swift collapse of the U.S.-backed Afghan government. But one underappreciated mistake has been Washington’s long‐running effort to suppress the cultivation of opium poppies in Afghanistan and, in turn, the production of heroin and other opioids. The campaign most likely had little effect on the amount of poppy grown. Instead it shifted cultivation to Taliban‐controlled territories, bolstering the militia’s revenues.
According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Afghanistan accounted for 85 percent of global opium production in 2020. Poppies are a labor‐intensive crop, perfectly suited to a country with a large agrarian population and few off‐farm income opportunities. Poppy also thrives in Afghanistan’s soil and climate conditions, as well as its weak governance and corruption.
American efforts to suppress poppy cultivation, either through direct eradication or through incentives to grow other crops, failed to account for the basics of supply and demand. Suppression policies focus on shrinking supply, which means a fixed quantity of opium will become more expensive to produce. These policies involve a mix of threats to destroy poppy fields and the provision of resources (such as fertilizers) to encourage farmers to cultivate other crops. But if demand is not very sensitive to price increases, the quantity demanded will change little in response to the reduction in supply.
Source: Cato Institute
Antibiotic Prescriptions Associated With COVID-19 Outpatient Visits Among Medicare Beneficiaries, April 2020 to April 2021
Outpatient Visits for COVID-19 and Associated Antibiotic Prescriptions Among Medicare Beneficiaries Aged 65 Years or Older, by Setting, US, April 2020 to April 2021. The volume of COVID-19 visits differed by setting: emergency department, 525 608 (45.8% of all visits); office, 295 983 (25.3%); telehealth, 260 261 (22.3%); and urgent care, 77 268 (6.6%).
Source: Journal of American Medical Association Network