Big Pharma CEOs Were Just Called Out by Massachusetts' Gloucester Police

September 23rd 2015

In an effort to hold Big Pharma accountable for its role in the U.S. heroin epidemic, the Gloucester, Massachusetts police department posted contact information for the CEOs of the top five pharmaceutical companies on Facebook, encouraging the public to reach out and ask about their plans to address painkiller addiction.

The department included the names, phone numbers, email addresses, and salaries of executives from Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Abbott Labs, and Eli Lilly—pharmaceutical corporations that yield hundreds of billions in annual profits, according to the World Health Organization. In their post, Gloucester police wrote that all of the Big Pharma CEOs were also featured on Forbe's "America's Highest Paid CEOs list."

"Now...don't get mad," the department added. "Just politely ask them what they are doing to address the opioid epidemic in the United States and if they realize that the latest data shows almost 80 percent of addicted persons start with a legally prescribed drug that they make. They can definitely be part of the solution here and I believe they will be....might need a little push."

The statistic that they referenced comes from the Center for Disease Control, which also reported that, between 2007 and 2011, rates of heroin use rose 75 percent. Rates of prescription drug abuse have similarly risen, with more than 17,000 deaths attributed to painkiller overdose reported in 2012. These are not isolated trends, health professionals argue.

Enter Gloucester Police.

This is the same department that made headlines in May after launching a program that was designed to curb addiction rates in the Massachusetts city through rehabilitation of drug offenders rather than the criminalization of addicts. If an addict comes forward, the department has agreed to offer amnesty and enroll them in treatment centers staffed by police officers, volunteers, and professional medical clinicians.

Now the police are hoping to raise awareness of the relationship between painkiller abuse and the U.S. heroin epidemic, which ATTN: has previously reported about. And the list that they posted online already seems to be working. Pfizer, the world's largest pharmaceutical company, apparently contacted the Gloucester police less than 48 hours after the department published the viral post. The corporation expressed interested in sitting down to discuss ways that they could work together with local law enforcement to reduce rates of prescription drug addiction.

"Now we've reached providers, insurance, and pharma is starting to come onboard," the department wrote on Facebook in a follow up post. "There are entities who have to admit things were approached incorrectly and take part in correcting the system. If they do that, law enforcement has no issues with them. We don't want to be in the health care business...but we are really good at holding people accountable."

"With your support...this is becoming a change in the conversation."

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