Life Science Compliance Update

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June 23, 2017

Chicago’s Attempt to Regulate Drug Reps - A Real Public Health Initiative or Simple Revenue Generator?

Prac-prescription

Lately pharmaceutical marketing has been under increasing attack at both state and federal governmental levels. Now Chicago has joined D.C. in the attempt to regulate pharmaceutical representatives. Billed by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel as a measure to curb opioid addiction, the actual purpose seems less clear. What is clear is that the ordinance will induce additional costs and complexities for pharmaceutical compliance officers charged with overseeing sales activities.

The origins of the Chicago ordinance date back to October 2016. The city faced with increasing crime and overdose rates tied to illegal drugs needed to do something. As a result, Mayor Rahm Emmanuel announced new initiatives to combat heroin addiction in Cook County based on recommendations developed by a Task Force. Part of those initiatives was increasing the regulation of pharmaceutical representatives working within Chicago.

It is interesting to note that nowhere in the recommendations of the Task Force was there a call for licensing pharmaceutical representatives. However, the Mayor in his press releases stated that the new licensing requirement is part of a larger series of efforts by the city to combat heroin and opioid addiction. The Illinois Attorney General echoed this sentiment. “I support the City’s efforts to license pharmaceutical sales representatives to curb the abusive overprescribing of opioid painkillers that feed our country’s heroin epidemic,” said Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan. “My office has investigated misconduct of pharmaceutical sales representatives and recently filed a lawsuit against the maker of a powerful opioid for directing its sales reps to promote prescriptions for inappropriate uses that can be addictive and deadly.”

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