- As co-founder of the Police Assisted Addiction Recovery Initiative (PAARI), Leonard Campanello, the police chief in Gloucester, MA, has pushed pharma companies to help address the opioid crisis. He event went so far as to publish the names, phone numbers, and salaries of top execs at pharma giants like Pfizer, J&J, Merck, and others.
- Since June 1, Campanello has been using Facebook as a tool to not only call out pharma, but also to invite addicted individuals to PAARI, which allows them to come into the station to seek help with rehabilitation. So far, 210 addicts have come to receive support from PAARI.
- Pfizer representatives are meeting with the group this week. In November, Purdue Pharma (the manufacturer of OxyContin, which has courted its own bit of renewed controversy recently) will be coming to Gloucester for meetings.
The backstory: According to the World Health Organization, two million Americans are addicted to opioid painkillers. In addition, every day in the U.S., there are 110 overdose deaths from both legal and illegal drugs.
And now that researchers have shown the strength of the connection between opioid addiction and heroin abuse, its clear that legal painkillers are part of what's driving illegal drug use. Recognizing this connection, Campanello has focused on engaging phara companies in a conversation around how to address the addiction crisis from different angles.
Campanello has outlined his talking points for the conversations with the pharma companies, focusing on a state plan to monitor opioid prescribing and engage hospitals, doctors and pharma companies. Campanello's program has been gaining momentum as it has started to demonstrate the ability to help addicted individuals, while also engaging the civic and business communities.