'Blue Bloods' Called out by HBO Host Over Severe Misinformation

Blue Bloods appeared on Last Week Tonight With John Oliver Sunday as part of a segment about the need for better treatment of drug overdoses. In the segment, Oliver discussed the dangers of fentanyl, which has become increasingly common in the trade of illicit drugs. Oliver used a 2017 clip from the CBS police drama to illustrate how widespread one of the misconceptions about fentanyl has become.

Fentanyl is dangerous, but a common myth spread by law enforcement agencies is that you can suffer a drug overdose simply by touching fentanyl. Oliver shared a training video from the San Diego Sheriff's Department, in which a deputy claims a trainee collapsed immediately after just touching the drug. In August 2021, experts told CBS News this was impossible.

"It is very clear that you cannot overdose by touching fentanyl," Dr. Leo Beletsky, a law and health sciences professor at Northeastern University in Boston and an associate adjunct professor of public health at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine, told CBS News. "It is technically impossible to touch fentanyl powder and feel any effects of it, let alone overdose. The visible symptoms what we see from the video could be consistent with a panic attack. It could be any number of things. People have fainting events all the time."

This myth has been pervasive for years. Oliver included a comment from Dr. Ryan Marino, a toxicologist at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. In 2019, Marino told the Detroit Free Press it would be impossible to have a fentanyl overdose from inhaling the drug. "You would have to be in some sort of wind tunnel with massive amounts of fentanyl," Marino said. "That wouldn't exist in the real world."

The myth existed in 2017 when Blue Bloods featured it. In one scene, Det. Maria Baez (Marisa Ramirez) picked up a plate of powder that had fentanyl on it. Next, Baez was rushed to a hospital, where a doctor explained the myth to Det. Danny Reagan (Donnie Wahlberg). "That is complete horses—," Oliver said. "Not that you'd expect any more nuance from a show that's basically adult PAW Patrol."

"The point is, it is deeply irresponsible of police to keep perpetuating a medical impossibility and for media outlets to keep amplifying it," Oliver continued. "For a start, it might make people afraid to help someone they see experiencing an overdose. Why risk giving someone CPR if they might be covered in powdered death?"

Oliver took another swipe at Blue Bloods later in the segment when he discussed how difficult it is to obtain Narcan, a life-saving drug that can stop an overdose. "There are certain things you would want to go out of your way to discourage people from having in their homes," Oliver said. "Nazi flags, pet chips, a TV playing an episode of Blue Bloods, but Narcan is absolutely not one of them."

Blue Bloods returns on CBS Friday, April 1 at 10 p.m. ET. Past episodes are available on Paramount+. Last Week Tonight With John Oliver airs Sundays at 11 p.m. ET on HBO and is available to stream on HBO Max.

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call the National Drug Helpline at (844) 289-0879.