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1,000 Licensed Pharmaceutical Reps Means $700K To Treat Opioid Addicts

By Heather Cherone | September 18, 2017 12:13pm
 The $700,000 generated by the licenses for pharmaceutical sales representatives will be used to fund drug treatment programs, officials said.
The $700,000 generated by the licenses for pharmaceutical sales representatives will be used to fund drug treatment programs, officials said.
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CITY HALL — More than 1,000 pharmaceutical representatives are now licensed to work in Chicago as part of an effort to end what officials said is an epidemic of deaths from heroin and other opiates.

Since those licenses come with a $750 annual fee, city officials will use that $700,000 to fund opioid addiction treatment for about 1,000 Chicago residents, officials said.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has touted the requirement — which was approved by the City Council over the objections of the pharmaceutical industry — as the "toughest in the nation."

"With this milestone, we are working to ensure that residents have all the facts when it comes to these addictive drugs and hold accountable those who may seek to deceive the medical community," Emanuel said.

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Pharmaceutical sales representatives also must undergo ethics training and disclose "their practice and products" to Chicago residents, officials said.

Complaints about pharmaceutical representatives can be made through the city’s 311 system.

People who violate the requirement could face fines of $1,000 to $3,000 per violation, and could have their license revoked for at least two years, officials said.

In 2016, there were about 684 opioid-related deaths in Chicago, according to data from the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office.

That represents an increase of nearly 97 percent from 2015, according to the data.